While I was in jail, I tried to find interesting things to read, I would pick up a book off the limited rack, and the ladies in my enclosure would throw non-sense supersitions that if you didn’t finish a book, you would end up back in jail.
I’m not superstitious, but I headed the warning anyway, I never wanted to end up in that place ever again.
I picked up an old copy of the “American Literature poetry 1968” I assumed I would be able to finish this within in my ten days. All I had was time to read, or time to sleep, or time to be afraid of everything around me, and afraid the leave my bed. And so I read.
I finished one book, and was scared to start another, and so I read poetry. I found this rare poem, among 300 or 500 pages of poems, that really spoke to me. I wrote it down on a piece of paper I had egged the guard for. I used a pen, which was basically a very soft tube about 2 inches long with ink and pen tip. It was difficult to write with to say the least.
I wrote down the poem, written by Robert David Cohen, and I read it to myself over and over. I don’t know why it spoke to me the way it did. It’s titled
"Because you have increased my hurt
I will not mention what occurs to me now
In this rainstorm, the green curtains
Soaked at the bottom, heavily flapping
Out the time, the shadows of clouds moving
Across the sides of buildings, shapes
Everywhere changing, the words loose
Changing, thoughts to refer to, changing too
And now in the rain, whatever you do hurts me, and makes me wait for
The next thing you think of, the next thing you do.
What makes a memory, I wander what makes
It whole and what makes it part?
What eliminates feeling in time
And what makes it real
And why when the rain is falling
And the wind is raging
And the curtains allow no light
And the cat is asleep in dreams
And the walls shift and the dust is wet
Why is there no feeling for what happens
As it rains , as one sleeps?
I shudder and make myself small
Drawing up my legs to my chest
And take the covers off me and watch myself
In a long mirror, a body a ball on a white sheet.
Rocking slightly, and he is pink and brown,
And she is waiting to say something
That hurts him
Will you stop hurting me , will you stop saying things to which make me sick
Which make me mad with stark raving moonlight?”
by Robert David Cohen
I was obviously in a low, low place in my life, I had just been put in jail. I felt like I lost a lot of my friends. I was off antidepressants, anxiety meds and insomnia meds, I was hurting. I was emotional and unable to be comforted.
I was just there.
In my notes I wrote: this poem addresses the thoughts in-between, the time when you are so hurt, you don’t feel like feeling. its so true. It shows that people can hurt past the point of being able to accept it. Because we allow ourselves to hurt from the people we love, instead of walking away. We allow ourselves to hurt others, because we ourselves are hurting, and we allow ourselves to hurt internally and not accept love form others. And we wonder why..what makes us this way or that…
As I re-read this now, a year and half later….This poem means so much to me, it refers to a man and women, I think, but to me, I read it in many different variations. I read it as if I was hurting myself, and as if I were being hurt, or if I was the hurt inflicted on others. We all have an inner voice, one that talks to us, mine is extremely negative, telling me i’m not good enough, telling me I need this or that to be better. That I don’t do enough, That’s its my fault.
What do you think of this poem?
What poems speak to you, when need them to ?