Poem: THE ROLLERCOASTER

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Lately, I’ve been on what one might call a ride, starting a new job and getting used to a new routine. I’ve had to make decisions and conscious choices to change certain things going on in my life, and change is always something that brings the risk of harm or loss or disappointment.

In a serendiptous dovetailing, I’ve also had two or three recent conversations with friends about fear and how much control over our lives we should surrender to be free of it. Sure, there’s a lot of bad news out there and it can be very confronting when we’re bombarded by news presenters and politicians and even advertisers playing to and preying on our insecurities, trying to worm their way into the darkest recesses of our hearts and minds, but something I always try to remember is that most of the time, most of the world and most of the people in it are wonderful, fun and good to be engaged with.

The next stop at The Carnival is ….

 

The Rollercoaster

 

First, of course, you’re sitting dumb
Waiting for the ride to start.
You know exactly what’s to come
Yet still the thrill quickens your heart.
You kid yourself you’re in command.
You’ve done this more than once before.
You scoff just like a seasoned hand;
As if you could be scared once more.
But deep inside you know you’re bluffing
And all your bluster comes to nothing.
You’re quivering down in your stuffing.
You give yourself a mental cuffing.

The slow draw up the starting climb:
That creaking noise, that awful shudder
Always seems to lengthen time;
Each second seems to hold ten others.
You take the chance to look abroad
Before the ride begins for real.
You don’t know anyone aboard,
But you mark the ones who’ll squeal.
You tell yourself the guy behind
Is probably gonna start to whine,
And that lady down the line
Looks like she’s gonna be just fine

The brakes release, you start to plummet
What a feels a mile down from the summit.
Your stomach asks for leave to vomit
Your head feels like a searing comet
And if downward is not enough
You’re also moving sideways. Rough
And bouncing left, the curve is tough
Then upside down, who makes this stuff?
You ride through screams from those ahead.
Inertia makes your body lead.
The blood goes rushing to your head
And then back out as you are sped
And rolled and rattled, shaken, spun.
Now you’re staring at the sun
And now your upside down, what fun!
Before you know it the ride is done

The carriage grinds along the track
Delivering your body back
To where it was not long ago.
You’re tingling from head to toe
And it seems wisest to walk slow.
Deep inside your heart you know
The danger of the ride was nil.
It was a superficial thrill;
A pretence of facing proper danger
A sham of sorts, an unbacked wager.

But isn’t that what life’s about,
The way we’ve made this world of ours?
We shut the things that harm us out
And then we miss the scary hours.
We think its challenges we face
We tell ourselves we’re taking risks
From the comfort of our living space
Surrounded by our data disks.
Guess what? The real world’s just outside,
A place of chance, a place of harm,
But like the rollercoaster ride
The fear is what provides the charm.
Don’t be scared, but do be cautious
And take the step outside your door
Don’t stop because you’re feeling nauseous
There’s wonders yet left to explore.

© Darryn Roberts 2014

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Poem: THE HALL OF MIRRORS

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I’m going to try and be more bloggacious again for a while. Sometimes I just don’t have anything to say; other times I have stuff to say but doubt whether it’s worth anyone’s time to read. Mostly though, I just get into the habit of not being in the habit of blogging, because – as I may have mentioned a time or two – I am chronically lazy and basically unmotivated.
So, anyway, until such time as the good creative juices start flowing like a river, I need to self-inspire. I’ve decided to work up a series of linked poems with the theme of “The Carnival”. The first one is below. If it doesn’t seem like a carnival you’d actually enjoy visiting, give it time. The first attraction is not always indicative of the rest of the shows. Hopefully (and at this stage I’m as uninformed as you are, loyal reader) further entries in the series will be easier on the soul. Time will tell.

The Hall of Mirrors

A corridor of bent light
Reflects the same image
A thousand different ways,
From every angle come the leers,
The grins and grimaces of
A child, withdrawn
A son, disappointing
A youth, recalcitrant
Yearning, unreturned
A lover, unwanted
A tradesman, craftless
An athlete, clumsy
Potential, unfulfilled
A drunkard
A coward
A blowhard
Envy, unmerited
A kinsman, remote
A husband, failed
A father, absent
Resentment, unwarranted
A colleague, lazy
A friend, burdensome
A patient, unwilling
Achievement, negated
A spendthrift
A braggart
A fool

Oh. There’s another corridor yet?

© Darryn Roberts 2014

Poem: THE BROKEN MIND

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I’ve mentioned before that I deal with mental health issues.  Well, more correctly, I should say I have them to deal with.  Sometimes the task gets beyond me, as it did for a few weeks earlier this year. They say struggle builds character; the way I’ve been lately, I’m just about a whole new font.

The Broken Mind

Every day’s a battle
That no-one understands.
Every night is torture;
Sleep’s a distant land.

The fears and stresses creep and crawl
Like grubs with burrows in my head.
I’m in a never ending fall.
I want to run, my feet are lead.
There’s too much quiet, too much to hear,
Too much dark, the light’s too bright.
Everyone is way too near,
Don’t want to be alone tonight.

Trying leads to failure,
Anger and frustration.
Not trying is for cowards;
That way’s no salvation.

In calmer times I know what’s true,
I see goodness, I have fun.
But when I’m spiralling I do
Not really know what has gone on.
Were conversations truly had?
Did happenings really occur?
Am I actually going mad?
Have I already landed there?

There’s no way to cope
Yet I must continue.
No purpose in hope;
The black dog will eat you.

Misery’s a storming ocean
With waves of ink that blot the sky.
I struggle through expected motions,
Kneel in the wash, pretend I’m dry.
I’ve heard the universe turns slowly,
That all to come’s already passed.
My soul is broken, I am lowly.
For me its spinning too damn fast.

I used to be centred.
I used to suppress.
My barriers fell and
My wits took egress.

Simple tasks defeat me now;
No sanctuary in routine.
I pace the floor with furrowed brow.
I feel battered, dry, unclean.
The very words are meaningless,
These concepts have no referents,
And so there’s no way to express
My dread of losing coherence.

Still, a spark flares up ahead,
A tether for my cognition.
The imminence of journey’s end,
The catharsis of oblivion.

© Darryn Roberts 2014

Poem: SEPTEMBER 29th, 2002

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I have written before, I think, that I deal with depression and anxiety. I don’t ‘battle’ them and I don’t ‘suffer’ from them – although I certainly used to. Some years ago, however, I came to realise that they were part of me, and not some affliction to be permanently cured or a demon to be cast out. Just like a diabetic, or an alcoholic, or someone with specific allergies, there are things I will always need to do to manage my life and make sure I remain in control of the situation, and not the other way around. I take some mild medication, and insist on it remaining mild; my doctor once offered me increased dosage but I declined, for a couple of reasons. One, after half a lifetime of fast food and tobacco, I try to limit the number of manufactured substances I put into my body; and two, because I think the low dose takes just enough of the edge off the depression & anxiety to allow me to make conscious and positive decisions to keep them under control. I don’t want to surrender to low spirits, but neither do I want to yield my responsibility for actively improving my own life.
Apart from the pills, I make a determined effort to stay out of a rut, by trying new experiences and activities every chance I get – new music, different genres of movies & books, visiting places I know nothing about. I guess you could sum it up as making the journey important and letting the destination take care of itself. I eat better – fresh fruit & veg, often raw; a minimum of processed foods; no McDonalds or KFC or other industrial fast food. I exercise, but not nearly as much as I should, although every lifestyle change I make helps with that – I went from driving everywhere to catching buses to walking to work and now that I live on a farm, my aim is to do a minimum of two hours actual physical work every day. I try and do creative and stimulating things as well – from making jam to writing this blog, for instance.
Underpinning it all is a positive choice to have a positive attitude. It sounds redundant and simplistic – “Well yeah the way to not be sad is to be happy” – but it’s far from that. It’s constantly reminding myself that no, this isn’t the end of the world, it’s just a minor setback. It’s putting the mental brakes on before saying something that lowers the mood in a conversation, leading to anger or disappointment or other negative vibes, and choosing to say something constructive instead. It’s always bearing in mind that the big picture is only as big as I let it be, and always remembering that I have been into the pit and managed to get out once, and that’s a pretty damn fine achievement, and I can do it again if I have to.

September 29th, 2002

Why have I let the Darkness assail me so?
Beyond a doubt, it’s always there –
The fear, the anxiety, the pain and inadequacy,
And all the other poisons of the soul;
Beyond a doubt, they will accompany me
All throughout life’s journey.
But I need not let them lead me – no, not at all.
Instead, let them be begrudged companions,
Who insist on staying with me.

Very well then –
Ride behind me, if ride you must!
Keep yourselves in my shadow, or begone!

Today, I stood under the quiet rain of spring.
Tonight, I made sweet and gentle love with
Creation’s most glorious wonder.
THAT is life!
Beyond a doubt, my companions had not left me,
Yet there could have hardly been a more perfect day.
And I become aware, even as I write,
That this very epiphany is but a step.
Miracles of comprehension dawn within the eye of my mind,
Unfolding like crystal flowers in a ritual dance,
But I cannot grasp their bright and perfect symmetry,
And so they evanesce, but regret does not follow.
Rather, I taste a promise of joy to come –
That unique joy born of acceptance and contentment.

Let the journey continue.

© Darryn Roberts 2002

Poem: HAPPY NEW YEAR

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Calendars, huh? What a terrible idea THAT turned out to be.
The world turns around the sun regardless of whether we mark the occasion or not – its a sign, I think, that somewhere along the journey we have overcomplicated things as a species if we have to know well ahead of time when other things are going to happen. When it starts to get warm, and the days seem longer, plant some vegies & make sure you wear a hat outside. When the baby birds start squawking, go pick & store some fresh fruit & start gathering wood for the colder days to come. When the days start getting shorter again, check there are no holes in the walls, brew some beer up and air out the blankets. When it’s cold, don’t lick steel things. When it’s dark, go to bed. If it’s light, get up. Surely that’s about all we really need to do to get by in the universe, don’t you reckon?
Instead, we developed arbitrary measures to give ourselves the illusion of control, and became slaves to not only the calendar but it’s little brother the clock as well. Our lives revolve around bus schedules and loan repayment dates and what time to be at work and what day our kid’s homework is due and what time our favourite TV show is on (and when they do that ‘start 5 minutes late thing’ to stop you switching channels, oh how we curse them!).
Over the last few years, I have made a conscious decision to simplify my own life. I have shed as much routine as I can, and continue to look for more ways to do uncomplicate things. Its very liberating, and I highly recommend everyone give it a go …

… maybe next month.

Happy New Year

The old year closes.
The new one dawns.
The past fades behind us.
Ahead, the future yawns
Unknown and unhinting.
Who knows what may be?
It’s beyond any power
To attempt to see.
So all we can do,
No matter our lot,
Is hope for small joys
And accept those we’ve got.
Anything better’s a bonus,
A prize…
So walk through the New Year
With wide open eyes.
Don’t dare to expect it,
It won’t work that way;
Just simply accept it
And hope it will stay.
To all of you I say
(From over a beer)
Best wishes, good luck
And a Happy New Year!!

© Darryn Roberts 2000

Poem: THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

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So, 5 months is a normal gap between blog posts, yes? Those of you who are Facebook friends will know that I’ve been busy rearranging my life. I’ve moved from Sydney to Mangrove Mountain, living on a farm and selling fresh produce at a grower’s market.
In other words, my only excuse for not blogging is that I am still perennially lazy, as I warned you about here.
But anyway, it’s Christmas. Xmas. Yuletide. Malkh. Saturnalia. Hannukah. Natali Invictus. Kwanzaa. Taiwanese Constitution Day. People have different reasons for celebrating the season, but the main thing to me is not the story behind the festival … its the mood. We shouldn’t NEED a reason to be happy and nice and a little bit silly, no matter what the time of year. (Oh look, there’s a whole diatribe just waiting to spew out and preach itself at people … another time perhaps, Darryn). Point is, no matter what your beliefs or heritage or situation, have a great holiday.
Tara and I will be at Coast Shelter serving lunch and bringing seasonal cheer to the less fortunate; if you’re in the area, sing out and say Hi!

The Christmas Spirit

That special time of year has come
For ham and beer and Christmas fun.
The gifts are there, beneath the tree;
Our spirits all are running free.

Have you noticed, round this time,
How people treat each other fine?
Where we’d get cranky through the year,
Instead we’re filled with Christmas cheer.

I wonder why it should be so –
Why do we lose that Christmas glow?
Why should “Goodwill to all men”
Run out just as December ends?

Maybe we should all remember
This, from January to November.
Try and keep that glow alight;
Pick a friend and not a fight.

Our lives would doubtless all improve
If we stayed in that Christmas groove
All year round and all day long –
All those Elves just can’t be wrong!

© Darryn Roberts 2003

Poem: SMALL

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Hi there!
Sorry I’ve been absent again – school holidays came along, so I parented. Plus I think I did some other things, but who can remember?
Here’s another poem I wrote during my ‘black dog’ days.

Small

In the room for five minutes
And I’m choking on my inadequacy.
It’s like I’m a ghost who can’t moan;
Or a shadow
Disappearing in everyone else’s light.
Gradually I feel smaller
And less included –
And not a soul notices.
Do they not see it because
I’m insignificant?
Or am I only insignificant
Because they don’t see?
It’s not always this way –
Sometimes I’m the Big Shot
And the whole world spins
With me as it’s axis.
I love that, and hate the other.
Sometimes I wanna shake everyone
And scream “Look At Me!!!”
But I doubt I’d have the balls.
If I did, maybe it would be worse –
Because if they looked
And still couldn’t see anything
I’d be proven right.

© Darryn Roberts 2002

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