I Want to Live: The Shadows of Gun Violence

dad & us at police camp

On a cold night in February, 1983, my life changed forever.

While I was watching Crystal & Alexis duke it out on Dynasty, I heard a knock on the door.

We weren’t expecting anyone, so I felt a sensation of fear.  That sensation grew as I saw my father’s face in the door window, surrounded by the dark shadow of night.

My parents were going through a nasty divorce at the time, and my father was mentally ill, angry, lonely, and had nothing to lose.

I was happy when he moved out.

I was happy when his gun went with him.

His gun was issued to him by the NYC Police Department.  It went with him everywhere.  It threatened me.  It tormented me.

And now on this dreadful night, I knew that it may be the last thing I saw.

I opened the door due to some kind of foolish daughterly duty, and he place the gun upon my temple.

There were no hugs and kisses.  He simply said “do you want to die first?”

These words have echoed in my head for decades.  These words will forever haunt my dreams.

Upon hearing them, I panicked.  My reaction was to run out of the room and try to hide.  I heard my father drunkenly shouting at everyone, including my aunt, sisters and mother.

I did not know what to do.  I was 13 years old and didn’t have any answers.

So I ran.

And I haven’t stopped running since.

I ran barefoot through the snow to my neighbors house.  My shadow appeared in the moonlight upon the snow.  “Do you want any socks?” they said as they stared at my bare, wet feet.

I mumbled something to them like “my dad’s there, he has his gun.”

My neighbor was also a cop, so he walked to our house with his gun.  His wife called the cops.  The good guys.

Why wasn’t my dad one of those good guys?  I thought to myself.

Though I did not hear any gunshots, I had no idea if my family was alive or dead.  I was frozen and out of it.  I felt ashamed of myself for running and abandoning them.  I still do.

Though my family & I were lucky enough to survive, the shadows of gun violence will always remain.

They are a dark presence in my life, and even though my father passed away almost 10 years ago, his words still haunt me.

Being a gun violence survivor in any capacity, affects you for the rest of your life.

It may cause fear, anxiety, shame, PTSD, etc.  It casts a shadow upon many of the things you do.

And though counseling and/or time may help, you are never truly free.

You are its prisoner, and the constant reminders of the gun violence plaguing our nation continually tighten its grasp.

You are the child at Sandy Hook.

You are the movie patron in Aurora.

You are a member of the bible group in Charleston.

You are the college student in Roseburg.

You are at the holiday party in San Bernardino.

You are a member of a growing number of gun violence survivors.

You are a part of the human race.

You know all too well that a gun is not love.

A gun is taking away many of those we love.

It is an instrument of death, especially in the wrong hands.

It must not be held up above humanity.

It must be regulated to protect humanity.

It does not love.

It does not breathe.

It is my foe.

My dad used to call me foe, as a joke from fe fi fo fum.

“Do you want to die first?”

No Daddy…………………..I want to live…………………………

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

Hate Showed Up Late – The Charleston Unity Walk

Charleston unity walk sc bridge hate won't win post and courier

I have been very sad since the events that occurred in Charleston, SC.

Sad for the victims and their families, sad for the Charleston community, and sad for our nation.

I’ve been wondering what kind of person could do such a thing.

What kind of world are my children growing up in?

I haven’t been watching the news much since, or reading my news feeds, I couldn’t handle all the pain and sadness.

But something told me to take a look last night.

And, boy I’m glad I did.

I felt hopeful and uplifted for the first time since the tragedy. Glorious images of the Unity Walk across the Ravenel Bridge, which spans from Mt. Pleasant (where I used to live,) to downtown Charleston, were everywhere.

Images of people unified in hope, peace and love.

People who came together to pay respects to the victims with a 9 minute moment of silence, and to join hands in peace.

These people will not be defeated.

These people will rise above the hate.

We should all follow these people toward a brighter future for all Americans.

And let love change the current.

And let hate show up late.

Hate Showed Up Late Meme

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

Hate Showed Up Late

heart ocean foam

I was walking on a beach,

but hate showed up late;

it tried to get my attention,

but I wouldn’t participate.

It tapped me, it poked me,

it sharpened its claws;

but I chose to ignore it,

though it was seeking applause.

Applause I wouldn’t give it,

for I do not agree;

that I should treat poorly,

those who are different from me.

And though I am surrounded,

by some images of hate;

something evil’s gone fishing,

but I won’t take the bait.

I will seek out kind fish,

in our great human pond;

and when sharks surround me,

I will happily swim on.

To a glorious ocean,

where hate’s always late;

let’s all change the current,

and let love set us straight.

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

(& Twenty Six Seeds of Love for Newtown, Nuts About My Son)

The Flame

I wrote this poem awhile ago, inspired by Newtown.  Today I dedicate it to the victims of the Charleston tragedy.

Rev. Clementa Pinckney
Tywanza Sanders
Cynthia Hurd
Sharonda Singleton
Rev. Daniel Simmons
Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor
Susan Jackson
Ethel Lance
Myra Thompson

We will remember your names…..

candle heart hands

The Flame

When the candles stop burning,
will you remember my name?
Will you honor my shortened life,
will you carry on the flame?

The heat of injustice,
can ignite a spark;
though the candles will stop burning,
I’ve already left my mark.

On this world that is fleeting,
with short news cycles, it’s true;
when the candles stop burning,
I’ll still be remembered, will you?

Do what you can,
to bring peace and love to mankind;
so when the candles stop burning,
you will not be left behind.

So try to make a difference,
as time waxes and wanes;
leave this world better off,
since the time that you came.

Live life with much purpose,
through all the twists and turns;
so when your candle stops burning,
another will continue to burn…

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

(& Twenty Six Seeds of Love for Newtown)

#CharlestonShooting

#Charleston

#PrayforCharleston

THIS TIME: Fourteen Things I Can Do To Make My Country Better

Rainbow Row love meme

I rarely write such political messages, but sometimes I feel like my head is going to explode & I have to say something.

Today is one of those days. So if you don’t want to hear it, just scroll on, that is always a choice.

When Newtown happened, I was devastated. I cried for months. I learned about each Angel. I learned about each family. I’m still learning. I’m still paying tribute on my facebook page “Twenty Six Seeds of Love for Newtown.”

I also changed as a person. I became less apathetic, and more sympathetic. I took more time to enjoy my family, and treasure the moments we shared. I began to use my time more wisely on the internet.

And I began to pay more attention to the injustice & tragedies plaguing our nation.

I began to pay attention to how many people are losing their lives to violence by any means.

I am growing tired of hearing about people dying from violence on the news.

I am trying to remember their faces. I am trying to remember their names.

And once you take the time to do that, TO REALLY DO THAT, to look into each face, each life lost, and see or imagine each family’s grief……you will begin to change too.

You will begin to see that loss is loss. You will begin to feel sadness for all of them. You will begin to become angry at the injustice of it all. You will begin to want to do something about it. ANYTHING.

You will hear many people tell you, there is nothing one person can do, or nothing can be done, or the system is broken.

They will tell you we will never agree on many issues, so why even bother.

THAT IS BULLSH*T!

When you have your head filled with all of these horrific images, with all of the faces of those killed tragically, YOU WILL HAVE YOUR REASON TO BOTHER.

You will begin to hear their voices, the whispering of Angels, saying please do something.

You will begin to see that there is something you can do.

You will begin to see that one person has a lot of power when passion leads them.

You will begin to see that there are a lot of people who feel this way.

You will begin to see that if all of these people DID SOMETHING, it will make a difference.

Here are some things you can do, if you want to do something. You will not agree with all of them. But pick one thing you agree with and do it:

1. Pay attention to some of these tragedies. Learn about the victims. Learn if there is any way you can help their families or loved ones.

2. Pay attention to your family and those around you. Is there anyone who needs your attention, or help. Whether it’s mental or financial, help them or get them help.

3. If you see or hear hate speech against anyone or any particular group, speak up or leave the room. If all of us do this, it will make a difference. Hate speech can lead to much darker things.

4. If you see or hear anyone threatening violence, tell someone or report it to the authorities.

5. If you are a gun owner, become educated about responsible ownership & storage. Teach your friends.

6. If you are a member of a particular gun organization, demand that the leadership do something to help prevent these tragedies. Demand that the leadership stops blaming these innocent victims for these tragedies.

7. Learn the names, Twitter accts, emails & phone numbers of your representatives. Contact them and demand change. They really do read the correspondence & reply.

9. Support a gun sense organization.

8. Support mental health initiatives.

9. Vote in every election.

10. Support the many initiatives which are promoting love, compassion and kindness.

11. Teach your children to love and be accepting of others. Teach them that they are important & can make a difference.

12. Love your neighbor, and treat them how you would like to be treated.

13. Never stop believing that YOU can make a difference.

14. Never stop trying.

I hope that we will all actually do something THIS TIME.

Thank you to all of you who already have, or who will decide to.

Let’s join together to grieve as a nation, and to help change our nation for the better……….

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

(& Twenty Six Seeds of Love for Newtown)

Six Sisters Had a Dream

apple love meme

My daughter’s last day of school is next Tuesday.  I was just thinking about how nice it will be to attend her little class party, and to give her teacher a gift & to say thank you.

That got me to thinking about all teachers & about the 6 wonderful educators whose lives were cut short in Newtown.

Anne Marie, Victoria, Lauren, Rachel, Mary and Dawn.

I’ve thought a lot about them over the past 2+ years I’ve been running my FB page “Twenty Six Seeds of Love for Newtown.”

I’ve studied their beautiful faces, I’ve memorized their beautiful names, I’ve learned about their accomplishments and dreams.

What would they be doing/thinking now if they were still here?

Though we can never know for sure, I’m certain they would still be making the world a better place.

They all accomplished so much in their lives.  They taught and influenced so many, including me.

By taking the time to read about them and listen to their families words, I have become a better person.

Teachers/educators are wonderful people.

And these 6 women exemplify what an educator should be.

I wrote the following poem about them.

Though they are not sisters in the biological sense of the word, they will forever be known as sisters of honor, courage and love.

Like most educators, they made a lasting impression on those they taught or helped.

They continue to do so, and they continue to breathe dreams and hope into everyone…………..<3<3<3

Six Sisters Had a Dream

Six sisters had a dream,

to educate the children as a team,

caring, nurturing, encouraging all,

to climb every mountain, to scale every wall.

Six sisters went to school that day,

but didn’t come home, fate took them away,

and though they now exist in a different realm,

we can help fulfill their dreams for them.

Work hard, and never give up on your dreams,

no matter the challenge, or how difficult it seems,

help your neighbor, especially those in need,

be a force for change, and you will succeed.

Support our educators, support our schools,

give them the ability, give them the tools,

to make a difference, like these sisters managed to do,

Dawn, Mary, Victoria, Rachel, Lauren and Anne Marie too.

Six sisters went to school that day,

but didn’t come home, fate took them away,

they will always be in our hearts and minds,

and their dreams and accomplishments will outlast time…..

You can learn more about these 6 amazing women and how their families are continuing their dreams and legacies here:

http://mysandyhookfamily.org/

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

The Nightmare

The Nightmare Meme

I wrote the following post on 11-16-14:

As I sat at the breakfast table today eating homemade french toast that was dripping in syrup, I thought of Scotty McMillan.

I watched the syrup drip drop down onto my plate, just like his pain must have drip dropped out of him until his last breath.

I noticed how some of the syrup clung to the tiny pieces of french toast, just like how some of my memories of child and domestic abuse cling to me.

It is a tragic irony that this precious little boy lived on Hope Lane, in a quiet suburb of Philadelphia. The boy who probably tried to cling on to hope and life though he was given no quarter.

Stories such as his sicken, anger and sadden me, and haunt my already darkened dreams. They shouldn’t happen, yet they keep happening.

I understand all to well the silence of a child who is trapped in a neverending nightmare of abuse. I understand well the silence of a woman trapped in a horrific relationship.

I understand the fear, insecurity, brainwashing, and pain. I was wrapped up in a ball of it for over 20 years.

But, now I also understand that the cycle of violence can stop. I understand how taking some time to look up from our electronic devices, to pay attention to our neighbors and loved ones, can make a difference and perhaps change the course of someone’s life.

I understand that out there somewhere is peace. That if we help each other and strive to love ourselves and make a difference we will.

I understand that by writing poetry and speaking up about such topics, I will lose many FB friends and FB/Twitter followers, etc.

Please understand that I do not care.

I care more about those whose lives are being destroyed or ended due to violence in any way, shape or form.

I know many kind, caring people feel the same.

I will not sit silent any more. I have finally found my voice after a lifetime of pain and struggle.

I will always remember Scotty, the 26 Angels of Newtown, and so many more amazing children/people.

They will never be silent in my mind…I can always hear their words…and I will not stop mine for as long as I live….♥♥♥

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

Ball of Pain

spread love not pain meme

I wrote this poem while I was in the process of ending an abusive relationship.  It brought up memories of an abusive childhood.

Due to a difficult childhood, I’ve always felt different.  I’ve always felt unworthy of love & affection.

Writing poetry, going to therapy for a few years, and time has helped to heal some of my wounds.

Some wounds will never heal…..but you can move on……<3<3<3

Ball of Pain

Layers and layers of infinite pain,
I can’t find a beginning, but there must be an end.
Twisting, turning, augmenting each day,
I am your prisoner that time did create.

My soul is empty, my heart slowly beats,
My ball is a memory, a pain that won’t cease.
A struggle inside me, please give me the strength,
To slowly unravel this cyclical length.

A child was in danger, abuse took its toll,
You tried to protect me, but grew out of control.
Heartache and turmoil quenched your deep thirst,
My ball has consumed me, and is ready to burst.

You assured my survival, but at a deep cost,
The memories are distant, my childhood is lost.
The pain is diminished, deflated in time,
My ball is a memory, it’s time to move on…

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

Wheatgrass

wheatgrass meme

I was reborn in 2002 on Great Kills Beach in Staten Island, NY.

I had suffered through living in Manhattan on 9/11, a job loss, and a major personal loss in 2001 and was devastated, depressed and felt all alone.

I was lucky to have a roof over my head, supplied by my mom, but I had nothing more.

I went to this beach every single day for a year.

At first I just sat and cried.

Then I sat and cried and wrote a few poems.

Then I sat and cried and took a few pictures.

Then I sat and cried a little less and started rollerblading.

As the days and weeks slowly rolled by I began to listen to the wind whispering to me. The seascape strengthened me. The waves helped to wash away my pain.

I was becoming stronger each day, and I even learned to smile again.

This is one of the first poems I wrote that year. I didn’t know it at the time but the wheatgrass I refer to was actually beach grass. I called it wheatgrass because it was the color of wheat & it flowed beautifully on the beach and through my pen.

Whenever I see beach grass now, I think of this difficult time in my life.

I am grateful it made me stronger…I am grateful for this little beach on Staten Island, that is and forever will be the gateway to my heart…

Wheatgrass

The air flows through you like a memory,
Caught beneath an unforgiving sun;
Rich shades of amber point toward the heavens,
Swaying so swiftly like an infinite goodbye.

The haunting silky grains of madness,
Invade my brain and spiral out of control;
Slimy worms of justice kiss the mouth of wisdom,
Your beauty and splendor reveal a tortured soul.

Left to tread the path of heartache,
The clarity of truth will slowly plant its seed;
Releasing the pain like a flowing blade of wheatgrass,
Finding solace in the familiar touch of rain.

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

Frozen Summer

frozen summer meme

Frozen Summer

Summer’s coming,
and it’s with some disdain,
that I await it,
will it thaw my pain?

Will it provide some warmth,
to heal my wounds,
will I face it,
oh, winter can’t come too soon.

My frozen summer,
oceans of grief,
though I sometimes smile,
to my great relief.

But moving on,
is beyond my control,
my frozen summer,
is part of my soul.

My heart will ache,
often, it’s true,
for the ice only melts,
when I think of you…..

Kathy ❤

Poetologie