Gathering

Gathering
by Louise Gallagher

Gathering, the circle draws us near
candlelight flickering
on precious faces held so dear
sharing stories of our days
laughing and teasing one another
as only those whose stories have been woven
through the warp and weft of this family tapestry can
because we know
there is no distance too far
that cannot be bridged by two hearts
beating together and weaving stories 
full of memory and love of life
shared within the circle. 

As we thread our stories
together, laughter, memories and love rises
and we raise a glass in silent honouring
of all the hearts who lost their beat
in those days, not yet past but slowly now,
slipping away,
when we could not gather with family and friends 
because only the distance between us
could keep us safe.

We are gathering now
drawing near
stretching our arms around one another,
curving into bodies touching, heart to heart
and savouring these times 
where we can feel them beat 
in time
as we gather and share
laughter, love and memories of times past
and loved ones lost and feeling grateful
for those who made it
through to be here now,
gathering, the circle drawing us near,
holding us safe
from where so many have gone
leaving behind only memories 
to light the empty spaces left behind.

The Wild Places of Your Heart

The Wild Places
by Louise Gallagher

Some may call it a wilderness
a vast
unexplored terrain
thick with brambles
and vines

interwoven

into a thick impenetrable net
of lost dreams and disappointments

of life’s hurts and wounds, scars and scares

holding you back
from breathing freely

in the light
of each new dawn

breaking free of night.



Some may call it a wilderness

I call it my heart
a wild and mystical place
where vast
unexplored terrain

rich with open spaces

yearning to be discovered
with dreams calling to be awoken

call me to cast off

life’s hurts and wounds and disappointments

to jettison the scary stories

I tell myself
of how I will never
do enough

deserve better

be worthy.


In this wild place
of my heart
beating
wild and free
untethered to the stories
I tell myself

about how I will never be

enough
I am enough
I am all I ever dreamed of
I have all I ever hoped for
I am 
all of me
worthy of living
with the wilds of my heart

breaking and breathing, breaking and breathing 
free.

Airport Hustle

Airport Hustle
by Louise Gallagher

The world is on the move
masked faces
eyes watching 
smiles
frowns
furrowed brows
checking…
Where’s my ticket?
Wallet?
Hand sanitizer?

Suitcases rolling
wheels turning
clicketty clack 
clicketty clack 
people walking
people standing
milling about
beneath glass ceilings 
soaring high
pouring light
upon bustling crowds
gathered
around touch screen kiosks
checking in
printing out
baggage tags
and boarding passes
people on the move
conveyor belts
rolling
clicketty clack 
clicketty clack 
carrying baggage
to distant ports
clicketty clack 
clicketty clack 
in the hope 
it will arrive 
at the end of the journey
in the same shape it began.

 
Long lines
snaking through
security barriers
laptops tested
carry-on scanned
passing through
to the other side
leaving behind
going towards
new horizons
home turf
everywhere
busy
busier than its been
through an invisible microbe’s
demands 
the world limit
where we go
and who we see.

The world is on the move 
faces masked
eyes watching 
people moving
wheels turning
clicketty clack 
clicketty clack 
airport humming
with life
and people
travelling 
holding on
to the hope
that when they reach their destination
they will be home
free
of an invisible travelling companion.

Photo by Joseph Barrientos on Unsplash

I am home again. My heart full. Memory overflowing with joy.

See you soon!

The Best You Can Do

The Best You Can Do.
by Louise Gallagher

You ask me to believe
you are doing your best
even when your best

is not true
for another.


And I do

believe
you are doing
your best.


And I do wonder,
can you believe

that in doing your best

you are limited 
by your belief
your best

is true for others?


What if

your best 
could be better?

What if

you stopped believing
you know what is best
for others?


Would you then choose 
to believe
what is true 
for another

is best
for them

even if it’s not
true for you?


Would you then choose
to believe
their truth
is the best way to create
something better than
what you believe
is the best
you can do?




When Life Hit Hard – a poem

No. 2 #ShePersisted Series — They said, be quiet. She spoke up.

This poem came to me this morning as I sat at my desk watching the river flow past.

Earlier, my daughter and I and our pups had walked at a park near their house and while walking along a trail through the woods came upon a large encampment.

It wasn’t there just a few days ago when we walked the same path, but now, it is well ensconced and easily visible. A bright blue tarp is draped across trees providing both shelter and privacy to the occupants. The smell of food cooking on an open fire permeates the air.

I understand the desire to build such an encampment, particularly if someone has no place to call home.

But there are challenges and dangers.

Community residents might not look favourably upon such an encampment and might decide to take matters into their own hands. Or, might call upon the City and insist something be done. In the past, this has sometimes resulted in City Parks staff dismantling and removing the encampment without showing much concern for the belongings or needs of the campers.

And, an open fire in the dense woods where this encampment is situated is problematic.

We are fortunate in Calgary to have the Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership (DOAP) and the Encampment Team through Alpha House Society, an agency serving vulnerable, at risk Calgarians. Their focus is to interact with individuals where they’re at, and to support them in addressing their needs. The Encampment Team, in partnership with City-ByLaw, supports ‘rough sleepers’ to help them address their safety, well-being and housing needs.

For Calgarians, the benefit of these teams is that it gives everyone an opportunity to reach out and support someone in distress or in need of housing supports, knowing the response will be compassionate and humane.

I have phoned the Encampment team to alert them of the situation. I know that their response will honour the individuals involved and provide them support in a way that reflects their humanity and their needs and their rights.

If you have concern for someone on the street in Calgary who is intoxicated or in distress, please call the DOAP Team first. The number is: 403.998.7388

If you have a concern about an Encampment – call the Encampment Team. Their number is: 403.805.7388

It can be hard sometimes to know what the most humane response is. The DOAP and Encampment Teams are the right response.

And… if like me you need to give voice to what you experience, witness, hear and see, write a poem, speak up, volunteer…

And support the agencies doing the work on the front lines. They need our help to do the important work they do supporting vulnerable people in our communities.

When Life Hit Hard
by Louise Gallagher

When life hit
     hard
she stumbled 
and fell
     hard

She got back 
     up
and when life tripped her
     up
again
she fell
     not so hard
this time
but getting up
     was harder.

Life kept happening
and she kept falling
until the falling
     down
     was easier
than the getting up
until the staying 
     down
     was safer
than trying to find
     a way 
     to stop
falling
.

She no longer
     cries
     out
for help
when she falls

She no longer 
     reaches
     out
for help
to get back up

Trapped
between the fall
and getting up
she lies
     silent
dreaming
of a hand reaching
     out 
to help her
     get back up.

A Kiss Like No Other.

There is something magical about walking along the river in the early evening of a warm Spring day.

Magical.

Mystical.

Mysterious.

Birds twitter in trees, the soft trill of some unknown (to me) species. The chattering of the chickadees mixing with the gossiping of squirrels. Ducks quacking from the middle of the river where they float lazily by while overhead, geese fly low, honking and calling out to one another.

Divine.

Delightful.

Delicious.

Leaves rustle on trees as if, released from the tightness of their buds, they have much to share about winter days gone by. Grasses turn green, eyeing one another as they whisper amongst themselves the secrets they’ve dug up from deep within their roots.

Luscious.

Luminous.

Light.

Fairy dancers spinning tales of magic on sun-dappled water. A fisherman casting his line out where he stands, thigh deep, in the running waters. A fish jumps just out of the water, splashes down as if to say to the erstwhile fisherman, “Catch me if you can!”.

Stories woven out of air, spun upon a gentle breeze catching a whiff of something exotic simmering on the fire where a family gathers to share time spent laughing and playing and eating by the river.

And I walk along the river’s edge and Beaumont chases the ball and stops to sniff some unknown scent and then he lets the ball fall into the water and he follows it with a splash into the river and I sit on the bank and watch and smile and listen and savour the pure delight of being alive in this moment right now.

This is spring in the city. My viewpoint focused to this moment in time where I sit and watch the world float by. No destination. No To Do list calling. No ‘have to’s’ waiting.

Just being. Here. Now.

This is all there is.

Love.

Joy.

Beauty.

Life.

______________________________

This post is in response to Eugi’s Weekly Prompt: Viewpoint

Your Weekly Prompt Viewpoint – May 13, 2021.

Your Weekly Prompt –Viewpoint – May 13, 2021.

Go where the prompt leads you and publish a post on your own blog that responds to the prompt. It can be any variation of the prompt and/or image. Please keep it family friendly. This needs to be a safe and fun space for all. Prompts close 7 days from the close of my post.


Link your blog to mine with a pingback. To do a pingback: Copy the URL (the HTTPS:// address of my post) and paste it into your post. You may also place a copy of the URL of your post in the comments of the current week’s prompt.

Responses posted prior to the next Thursday prompt release can be included in the Roundup.

Let’s be creative and have fun!

-Eugi

https://amanpan.com/2021/05/13/eugis-weekly-prompt-viewpoint-may-13-2021/ 

I Am Not Broken

The painting I’ve used to illustrate this poem is from my She Persisted Series. When I wrote this poem yesterday, I considered going into the studio and creating a painting to go with the words (but after six hours of cleaning the garage, I was too tired! – Not sure why I thought it would only take a couple of hours but hey! I’m always the optimist.). I still may do that but this painting, which is No. 37 in the series, felt ‘right’.

I AM NOT BROKEN
by Louise Gallagher

I am not broken
though I do have cracks

I am not cracked
though I do have wounds

I am not wounded
though I do have scars

I am not scarred
though I do have cuts

I am not
My breaks
Or cracks
Or wounds
Or scars
I am not my cuts.

I am beautiful.
Whole.
Full 
of incomparable
broken places 
revealing
cracks 
healing
wounds 
bursting 
into wisdom 
scars strengthening
cuts that cut deep
to forge 
beauty from
the ashes
of the places
that have shaped 
me.

I am not broken.
I am.
Beautiful.
Brave.
Bold.

I am woman.
I am me. 

I hadn’t intended to write two poems yesterday morning but… having spent much of my life learning to heed the muse’s urgings, I could not ignore her call to write this one out.

And so… I did.

Brave Beauty

Brave Beauty

Late spring snow
melts
velvet purple petals
preen
eager green grasses
shoot
out of winter moist soil

And the seasons turn
and the sun shines
warm
and Mother Nature
dances
as my heart
expands
to embrace
brave beauty
budding
up
out of the ground.

As I sit at my desk this morning I watch two robins chase each other through the trees. An opportunistic squirrel, taking advantage of what I assume to be their amorous intentions, raids the birdfeeder while chickadees hop along the fence, tweeting and twittering. I think they’re telling the squirrel to get lost.

A man in an inflatable raft drifts into view on the river. He drifts with the current, a fishing line trailing behind him as he uses one oar to gently guide him along. He passes in front of my window, under the bridge and out of sight. I imagine him full of hope.

And the trees stand still. Yesterday’s breezes gone. Buds are appearing along their branches, tiny shoots of hope leafing out in possibility.

High above, the blue sky is dotted with islands of fluffy white clouds that lay seemingly motionless, like a warm woolly blanket covering the earth below.

And I awaken.

There is much to be done today. I am in spring cleaning mode.

The deck. The storage area in the back of our basement. Both done.

Today, after my prerequisite morning walk with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle, I tackle the granddaddy of all cleaning chores. The garage. There are closets and cupboards that also need my ministrations but they can wait for a rainy day. The weather folk have promised a warm, almost hot for this time of year in this northern clime, day. It’s a good day to clean the garage.

Later, after I’ve soaked off the dust and grime from the garage in a leisurely bath, I shall venture into my studio and keep working on pieces for an art show I’m in this June.

I have a lot to do. My body of ‘saleable’ work not yet big enough.

I used to joke that you could always tell when I was writing. My toilet was sparkling!

It was my avoidance tactic.

And I wonder…

Is cleaning out the garage (or scrubbing the toilet for that matter) avoidance or preparation?

I’m choosing to reframe it as ‘brave preparation’.

Creative expression requires presence.

Presence requires full embodiment in the moment.

Embodiment calls for ridding my thinking mind of clutter.

So… I clean and clear and declutter.

It is a brave thing to do.

To create I must dare to release myself from thinking mind directives and allow myself to flow, unguided, along the river of creativity that courses through my veins and the air around me. I must allow myself to be carried on the current, like the fisherman in his raft. Trolling for nothing but a little nibble of an idea to seed itself in the fertile soils of my imagination.

I am cleaning out the garage this morning.

I am stepping into the beauty of brave creativity.

Good for Nothing

Several years ago, I volunteered teaching personal development classes at an adult emergency homeless shelter where I worked. One of the processes I used was to invite attendees to think about someone in the world they admired, and then to name the things about that person they most admired. The person could be a famous ‘real-life’ or fictional figure, past or present. Or, someone in their life.

One day, a young man who had been staying at the shelter since being released from prison 6 months previously, shared how the only person he could think of who he admired was his grandfather. “He always treated me nice,” he said. Not like his mother whom, he said, constantly repeated to him what she’d said the day he was born. “This one’s born to be bad.”

At the age of 24, his six months at the shelter were the longest stretch of time since turning 18 that he had not spent in jail. He was determined to keep his stretch going. I want to prove her wrong, he told the class. I want to be a better man.

As part of the exercise, I invited the attendees to write a letter to themselves saying all the positive things they wanted/needed to hear this person they admired say to them. There was no expectation of sharing what they’d written, I told the class. Just that they write out what words they most wanted/needed to hear about how wonderful, kind, intelligent, amazing they were. No negativity, I told him. These are the words that celebrate you. That inspire and applaud you.

The class wrote their letters and when finished, the young man whose mother had predicated he’d turn out bad asked if he could read the letter out loud to everyone. When I asked the class if they wanted to hear it, they all said yes.

When the young man was finished reading his letter out loud, there were a lot of moist eyes in the room, including mine.

This poem is written in honour of that young man and his courageous assertion that he was not going to be his mother’s predictions. That he would do whatever it takes to break the cycle, both of her abuse and his history of getting into trouble. And, it’s written to honour the thousands upon thousands of men and women who enter a shelter’s doors, who like that young come, arrive carrying the burden of a lifetime of being told they are good for nothing, they do not belong, they are not loveable or worthy or wanted.

Words matter. Let us think about our words. Let us use our words to create a better world for everyone.

A Gift of Life
By Louise Gallagher

The first time she saw his face
wrinkled and wet
with the vestiges of its journey 
through the birth canal
visible upon his skin, 
she closed her eyes. Tight.
“You’ll be good for nothing,” she whispered
to her newborn son
as if she could divine his future
by the marks her body had imprinted
upon his skin
through a past
she could never face.
And everyday, as he grew
from toddler to teen to man
she reminded him of his future
adding the back of her hand
across his face, for good measure,
she told him with a laugh
as she lifted a grimy glass of gin
to her lips.

She taught him things no child
should ever learn
gave him a story
he did not deserve
of a desperate future 
where he would always be 
good for nothing.

It was a harsh and brutal story
 no man could carry
without defending himself
against a past
that had branded him at birth
and kept him living his 24 years
as good for nothing.

Twenty-four days out 
of his last incarceration
he declared, Enough.
Enough of living out a past
he’d been born into
and was always told was his
only path to becoming a man.
Enough of being the kind of man
everyone called good for nothing.

On that day
he took his life
into his own hands
but not before
willing his heart and lungs and other organs
to give life to another.
At least that way, he whispered with his final breath
I will be good for something.

When she heard the news
of his demise
his mother laughed 
and lifted her gin,
her fifth or was it sixth of that day,
Good riddance, she said
to the empty room in which she sat
on a threadbare couch
surrounded by discarded bottles
and dirty dishes.
I always said you’d be good for nothing.

And still, his heart beats on
a gift of life 
creating a world of something
better for someone.