Between War and Peace

The stories we hear
Of war and peace
May cause us concern
Or relief
And yet
Reality
Is most often
Something inbetween


When orienting at the prospective new care home last Wednesday, a resident started talking unquietly about the war in Ukraine. She was quickly calmed by a staff, in as simple words as possible, suited to her intellectual capabilities.

That night, I heard an airplane or a helicopter fly by very low over my current home. I thought, perhaps influenced by the woman in the other home, that it was a jet fighter. “Are we going to war now?”, I asked the night staff when she responded to my call button. She put my mind at peace, saying someone had probably booked a night-time helicopter flight over Raalte. I took her story at face value and went to sleep.

The next morning, I found out that both of our stories are probably equally unlikely and reality was something inbetween: the helicopter had been called in a medical emergency to resuscitate a baby. Thankfully, the baby survived.


This post was written for Friday Writings, for which the optional theme this week is war and peace.

Book Review: The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart

A few weeks ago, I was looking for something new to read and decided to look on Bookshare whether authors I’d previously enjoyed, had had books released that I hadn’t yet read. It turned out Erin Stewart had. The Words We Keep was already released a few months ago, but I hadn’t yet known about it. Its blurb immediately appealed to me, as I am myself a mental health consumer and I love poetry. Here’s my review.

Summary

It’s been three months since The Night on the Bathroom Floor–when Lily found her older sister Alice hurting herself. Ever since then, Lily has been desperately trying to keep things together, for herself and for her family. But now Alice is coming home from her treatment program and it is becoming harder for Lily to ignore all of the feelings she’s been trying to outrun.

Enter Micah, a new student at school with a past of his own. He was in treatment with Alice and seems determined to get Lily to process not only Alice’s experience, but her own. Because Lily has secrets, too. Compulsions she can’t seem to let go of and thoughts she can’t drown out.

When Lily and Micah embark on an art project for school involving finding poetry in unexpected places, she realizes that it’s the words she’s been swallowing that desperately want to break through.

My Review

This story is told entirely from Lily’s point of view in first person perspective. I like that, as it shows Lily’s innermost thoughts and experiences through her own eyes. Interspersed are Lily’s made-up words (which took me a while to figure out weren’t actually real English words) and her poems. These aren’t particularly excellent, but they definitely give me a glimpse into her world too. Besides, my poetry as a teen (or even now) is probably worse.

Even though this book deals with heavy subject material, I really wanted it to be a feel-good read too. In this sense, some of the twists I didn’t see coming, disappointed me a little, but they were also important to the overall story.

I really liked Erin Stewart’s writing style of alternating between storytelling and such vignettes as poetry or Lily’s made-up words.

Overall, I gave this book five stars on Goodreads, but I would’ve given it 4.5 stars if Goodreads did half stars. The reason is the disappointment I felt at some of the plot twists. This book really gave me a bit of a book hangover.

Book Details

Title: The Words We Keep
Author: Erin Stewart
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: March 15, 2022

Poem: What Color Is the Sun?

I wonder
What color is the sun?

Is it red like fire,
Shooting flames across the sky?

Is it orange like the fruit,
Splashing its rays all around?

Is it yellow like a sunflower,
Fully blooming in midsummer?

Then again, how do I know
What these colors even mean?
Fire isn’t red or so I’ve heard
A sunflower’s heart and seeds are brown

As I look up to the sunset
My eyes wide open
I see nothing
Light nor darkness

And I wonder
What color is the sun?


This poem was written for this week’s Friday Writings, for which the optional prompt is “sunset”. I’m also joining dVerse’s OLN.

Poem: The Book Called “Me”

Endless streaks of time (or so it seems)
lie ahead of me,
as I turn page after page
in this book called “Me”

Until one day (possibly still far from now)
I will have reached
the page I pray concludes
with a happily ever-after

In six days, I will turn 36. I am hopeful that I am still not halfway through my life yet, but then again I recently learned that the life expectancy for someone born in 1960 was 52. I just Googled the life expectancy for my birth year, 1986, which was 74.8 years. If this is true, I am just under eighteen months shy of midlife. I am not the healthiest either, so to be fully honest, I probably can’t expect to live that long.

I didn’t want this poem to be fully about doom and gloom either, because, as a Christian, I do believe in eternal life for those who are saved. This is why I ended this poem on a positive note.

I am writing this poem for this week’s Twiglet, which is “turning page”, as well as the Go Dog Go Cafe Tuesday Writing Challenge, which is to start a poem with the word “endless”.

Poem: Are You Now Here?

Are You now here?
Or nowhere?
That’s the question

The answer, the ultimate determiner
Of life’s purpose
Your value in this world

So
Are you now here?


This poem was written for this week’s W3 Prompt. The idea is to write a poem inspired by the previous week’s winning poem, with a few added rules. This week’s rules were that your poem must contain 16 lines or less and the first and last line must be the same. In addition to being inspired by last week’s winning poem, I was inspired by a phrase from Lisa Genova’s book Inside the O’Briens, in which Katie, who is a yoga teacher, has this mantra that you are either now here or nowhere.

Poem: Take Shelter

It’s safe here,
guarded.
You can cuddle up.

It’s cozy here,
comfortable.
You can be secure.

Nightie-night.
Close your eyes.
You can rest now.

I hope you sleep well,
taking shelter
in the abyss.


This poem was inspired by one of the prompts in Reena’s Xploration Challenge #226. This week, Reena gives us a series of book title suggestions as inspirations for our post. I decided to use the first one as inspiration for this poem. I am also joining dVerse’s OLN, as well as Friday Writings #22. I didn’t quite understand the optional prompt for this week and the part about reusing words to craft a piece that’s of higher quality than the original, feels a bit, well, paradoxical to me. After all, I’m pretty sure I screwed up the original intent of that book title generator quite badly with this poem, but oh well.

Poem: The Monster

Sometimes
It screams
Loudly
Telling me
To give up once and for all

Other times
It whispers
Softly
Luring me
To take that final step

Sometimes
It seems silent
Just for a little while
But it always returns
The monster
Wanting me to die


This poem was written for Friday Writings #14, for which the optional prompt this week is to write about monsters. I am also joining dVerse’s Open Link. I’ve shared poetry about my depression and recurring suicidal ideation in both linkies before. I often refer to this state as “the monster”, so this theme came to mind when I read the Friday Writings prompt.

Poem: Locked Up Inside

In my bubble
I sit
Staring out
At the world
Outside

From around me
I hear
People talking
To me
But I can’t respond

Through the invisible wall
I try
To reach out
To someone
But I can’t

A tight grip
Of panic
envelops me
Because I know
I’m locked up inside


I have had the concept of being “locked up inside” in my head for a few days now. I first came across the phrase in an E-mail support group for parents of children with selective mutism, a disorder in which a child is unable to speak in certain situations due to intense social anxiety. I have never had this diagnosis, but as a teen and young adult, did experience periods of mutism due to anxiety and dissociative freeze responses. I use the term “locked up inside” for a feeling of intense anxiety which causes a freeze response that leads to an inability to speak and sometimes move. The feeling of being “locked up inside” is particularly frequent and intense lately.

I am linking this poem to dVerse’s Open Link Night.

Dear 2021…

Twenty-twenty won
That’s how you begun
For good or for bad
All that we had
Back then, you would continue
And you did

For most, it was probably a sad thing. COVID wasn’t over with. In fact, it’s likely here to stay.

For me, it was a good thing though. At the end of 2020, I was approved for the right level of one-on-one support for a year. I just found out last week that it got approved for another two years to come. I am so relieved! For me, I am more than happy that twenty-twenty won. At least in this respect.


This piece was written for Friday Writings, for which the optional prompt this week is “Dear 2021…”.

Poem: Invisible Pain

You can’t see it
The pain
Inside of me
So you assume
It isn’t there

You can’t hear them
The screams
Inside my head
So you assume
They aren’t there

You can’t feel it
The suffering
Which I endure
So you assume
That I’m just fine

I wish I could show you
The agony
I go through
So you’d know
What it’s truly like

The monster
Keeps me hidden
Silent
Untouchable
Trapped
Inside this world of darkness

If only
You could reach in
See or hear or feel
The pain
Then maybe
I wouldn’t feel so isolated
So invisible


This poem was written for Friday Writings, for which the optional prompt this week is to write about pain. I am also joining dVerse’s Open Link Night.