J. Scott, your dreams are done.
Snared in your youth by Big M—
Your gentle tortured soul now free
But your words endure in a troubled world.
The genius of your soul—
Knelt in awe of the literary greats
F. Scott (you know) Fitzgerald—Hawthorn—
Spouting quotes from the pens of the masters
You read long before. Once.
You drew me into journeys,
Expanded my understanding
You took me places I dared not dream.
Courtroom witness stand
Maximum security visitation
Pre-dawn in the empty parking lot
Of the Johnson County Jail
911 emergency call for an
Visits to a residential rehabilitation home
Through it all you shared your dreams
Challenged by steel-hard public opinion
Your open, gentle spirit remained devoted
To young Kassidy,
A child sister ripped too early
“I love God,” she taught from her heart.
“And God loves me. That’s all there is
In your world religion rejected and
For your deviations from the norm.
Kassidy showed you—God Is Love.
But not even she could stop Big M.
You searched for your place,
A home that would love you always.
On the journey, you befriended
Fought for those
In the margins.
You took up causes of those
With little voice.
And you wrote for them.
Because you were one of them
And they needed you.
The Pen is Greater Than the Sword, Scotty,
Or the needle.
And your words live.
Even if you don’t.
In this age of rigid conservatism
And legal discrimination,
The civic powers criminalized
Your disability. Your addiction.
When you needed help,
They served you blame.
They pulled the rug of security
From under your feet.
In your words, “Life is suffering. . .
But God is Love.”
As your spirit takes its first
Hesitant flight in freedom,
May you find the Winds of that Love,
And may they bear you
The wind is blowing.
Rise up with it and ride.
Lost in a storm of absurdities
I stumble on a path
Darkened by an eclipse of my soul.
Bits of memories collide,
Swirling around my face,
Stinging my cheeks,
Settling into the ashes of life at my feet.
Frozen to this spot,
Panic shrouding my heart
As surely and silently as the moon
Slid across the face of the sun,
I am overcome by fragments of
Slivers of shattered hopes.
What once shone bright,
Lighting the way,
Now dims with sorrow and despair.
Too many final farewells
Of friends in their prime.
Consternation at the
Endless thwarting of efforts to care,
Attention turned for decades to nurture other souls,
I have lost myself.
In a storm of archaic issues
That should have died long ago
Instead of you, my friend,
I am cast adrift, rudderless and confused.
Fragments of broken life
Pummel my face,
My thoughts, my heart, my soul.
Too much to absorb too fast,
The storm rages without respite.
I cannot cope with insanity.
Rendered immobile by despair, I stand, lost.
No direction. Helpless. Hopeless.
Shards of my shattered life-
Bits of memories from each decade
Collide. Old hopes,
Dreams, once-upon-a-time goals,
Values that became
Foundation for a future,
War with our failures
Covered in ash of seared
Convictions once held dear.
I have little time.
No thoughts to share.
I have no words.
I stoop to sift through
Debris of life swirling at my feet.
I collect the ragged splinters,
Hold them tenderly to my heart,
I am here somewhere.
And I think,
in my consternation,
If I can find the fragments
New art crafted from broken bits
Can offer beauty.
I find bits of hope in the storm debris,
Set them in a matrix of the future,
A Mosaic of salvaged moments
And values I refuse to relinquish.
Cradling wounded beauty of the past,
it anew to the future,
I step forward with caution,
But forward is the only way to go.
Tears for a Tree
Passed daily on my way to anywhere—
The world’s most beautiful tree,
Stately, spreading limbs
Offer cattle shade on hot summer days,
Pray to the sun through winter’s dormancy,
Rustle leaves in a fresh spring breeze.
The symmetry—the shape—steal my breath,
Command my admiration, my awe.
Set in the valley downstream from our pond,
Sunshine and water in abundance,
A monument along the highway,
A testimony to life, hope, resilience.
The perfect cottonwood tree.
But not quite.
Mired against a culvert passing beneath the blacktop,
The roots, arrested at a wall, found no anchor
In moving water
Or against steel.
One night a wind grew
And rain poured in sheets.
The gale caught those majestic boughs and
Toppled the tree.
The entire tree.
It crashed to the sodden earth.
Next morning’s sun shone on the ruined giant,
Uprooted by wind.
Since the roots found no anchor.
I cry for the tree.
And I wonder:
How many times have I been seduced
By the appearance of perfection?
How many times have I marveled
At majesty that turned hollow?
How many times have you?
Have we all?
Danger and deceit
Hide within that which is most alluring.
May the crumbling leaves,
The severed roots, and withered branches
Long remind me that
Beauty may beckon
But icons collapse
When hidden flaws surface.
The storms of life crumble
Monuments which steal my devotion
And topple the idols I revere.
A lifelong Kansan, Ann Fell spent most of her youth in northwest Kansas, and her young adulthood in southwest Kansas. She landed in Winfield in 1987, to teach earth science at the high school, and has been there ever since. In addition to teaching, Ann has worked as a professional piano technician, a handbell choir director, a photographer, and a writer. Ann’s two books, In the Shadow of the Wind, 2014, a memoir of her early life, and Sundrop Sonata, 2016, a novel of suspense, are available through Amazon.com. She blogs at www.annchristinefell.com.