Epitaph

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When I die,

Shed tears if you must

Let them wash

The scales from your eyes

Reveal the light

See all the little

Hidden things

That make the world beautiful

 

When I’m gone

Shout and wail if it helps

Let it crescendo

Into songs of life and movement

Raise your arms

Free your feet in

 

Dances

To secret music

That lift the soul

Irresistibly

 

When I pass

Grow though the grief

Let it teach you to

 

Cherish

 

Moments

Lay bare your heart

Act with kindness

 

Let love live as my legacy

 

-KJ Roe

 

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Deafening

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When does the war end
The barrage of bullets
Shells filled with words
Full metal jackets
Punched from indignation
Shot from weapons
Forged from hate
Intent to harm
The flag for a
Battlecry of
“We are right!”
And
“At all costs!”
Warpaint of
Self-righteousness

Dripping into our eyes
Like the soul-blood
We spill

Blinded in the fight
Deafened by
Our own wailing

Tripping over bodies
We proclaim to save

So allegiant to the
Cause
That the
Death toll of

Freedom
and
Brotherhood
and
Kindness
rings

Silent

In our ears

-KJ Roe

Tesserae

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Closeup of Mosaic Dragonfly by Susanne Sorogan; full photo from mosaicartsupply.com

Hold my heart
hold it gently and with great care
Hold the pieces
with open grasp
Careful lest the fragments

cut you
with their brokenness
Watch the light glint
off the edges
Glimpses of beauty

in the shards
Recognize
the strength in
the shattering
the hope found in

disrepair
the wisdom in
the cracks
the magnificence of

our remnants
the brilliant mosaic of
our coming together

-KJ Roe

Mis-guided

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Where do we go from here?

Mother returns to an empty house,
the spaces inside crying to be filled
and the quiet scares her

Father closes doors on sleeping angels,
dreading the loneliness of next week
and planning excess to fill the void

Friends debate calls and texts
footing unsure as balance is lost
each tries to find solid ground again

Lovers wait and watch and hold
their hearts within walls,
seeing love slip through their fingers

Anxious, hurting, frightened
we wave false flags of victory
over the ashes of our hope and trust

Families crumble under the weight
of broken promises and kept lies
and injuries never asked to be forgiven

Pain of emotions and thinking
steal color from the sky
and burn the liquid from the eyes

Stereotypes and scapegoats fill the feed
arbitrary lines of Side A or Side B smother the brave and the free

Blocking the exits for thought
no view of a bigger picture
as the blinders are pulled tight

Boundaries multiply exponentially
highlighting divisiveness and
burying brotherly love

Value our diversity becomes scalding
don’t you dare think differently
and our strength becomes frailty

Crushed by disjointedness and
suspicion and drama-fed fears
tourniquet squeezing every breath

Blinded, we thrash about wildly
reaching for any safehold
grasping the tails of sharks

Mistaking the hunter for
beloved rescuer as he
smiles and chews our limbs

And nodding sagely, smugly,
we watch our brethren sink
under the load of our

hemorrhaging condemnation

-KJ Roe

 

 

 

Ripple

This isn’t about money. It’s not about race, or religion, or gender, or politics, or what we ate for breakfast. Not really.

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My heart aches as I read about the tragedy in Las Vegas, about the pain inflicted on so many families at once. Those who were injured or killed, their loved ones, the survivors who were somehow spared direct physical injury, the first responders, the medical teams, police, even the mortuary workers… All of these people were directly impacted. Each person will have his or her own version of trauma from the experience. Each person will likely relive various moments over and over. Pain, anger, disbelief, looking for someone or something to blame – these are all effects of trauma. Trauma leaves scars.

But scars mean that there has been healing as well.

Healing requires care. It requires support.

Our bodies, at the most basic, cellular level, know this. When we are wounded, our bodies respond immediately and send their own kind of “first responders” – blood carrying specialized cells to create a safety net that eventually turns into a bruise or a scab, and sometimes, eventually, to a scar. Adrenalin shoots through our limbs, preparing us to fight, flee, or freeze. The pain receptors of the nervous system kick in to help us know things are bad and need to stop. At some point, numbness, often followed by pain. Following the pain, healing.

Our bodies know to respond with vital support.

Our minds and our hearts – our words and our actions – need to follow suit.

This isn’t about money. It’s not about race, or religion, or gender, or politics, or what we ate for breakfast. Not really.

It’s about humanity. About us losing our understanding of what it means to be a living, breathing, loving, hurting, mistake-making, struggling human being.

It’s about recognizing that everyone else is a human, too, and struggling in ways we can’t even guess.

It’s about extending grace and understanding and, when needed, forgiveness to everyone we meet, in person or online or in whatever format.

It’s not a competition over who’s been hurt more or who’s been stepped on or who’s smarter or more well-informed.

None of those things can be quantified and proven, because it is a matter of perspective, resilience factors, personal experiences, and a million other details that are impossible to determine absolutely.

None of those arguments solve the problem. They only increase the divide and exponentially increase the likelihood of additional tragedies perpetrated by those caught up in the rhetoric of whichever side of whichever argument.

In this competition, no one wins.

This isn’t about winning. It’s not about who’s wrong or right.

It’s about holding onto our humanity. Each hateful comment, each hurtful action, feeds the fire of divisiveness and malignancy. It grows the tumor of turmoil and grief.

It’s about peace – individually chosen peace, lived in individual lives, day by day. If we hold peace in our hearts and live it in our actions, if we salute each person on the planet as another living, breathing, struggling human being – just like us – if we remind ourselves of it each time we are provoked to angry reaction – if we just admit we make mistakes, too, and not one of us is perfect – then we do not want to hurt our brothers and sisters in humanity. We leave no ground for hatred and cruelty to take root. We can find within us the strength to offer kindness instead.

If we do this, we might begin to turn the tide of rising tragedy. Even if, as one person, we do not turn the tide, we will not have sped it along. Our contribution will be a drop of kindness in the ocean of humanity, and that drop can ripple out in waves beyond our knowing. At least, for that moment, we might shine a bright light in what is too often a dark world.

That’s a legacy worth leaving behind.

“There is no path to peace. Peace is the path. – Mahatma Gandhi

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa

“…be a reservoir of joy, an oasis of peace, a pool of serenity that can ripple out to all those around you.” – The Archbishop Desmond Tutu

-KJ Roe

Offensive

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Flinging
Barbs like
Throwing stars,
Flaming arrows of
Frustrations
Boiling over
Scalding the nearest
targets,
Watching in grim
satisfaction
Tinged with guilt,
Anger and past
resentments
Held up like a shield;
The will to draw
back the string
Fueled by voices
in our heads
Chanting ‘just desserts’
and ‘consequences’
And reassurances
of being ‘right’
As we watch sparks
Flare into flames
And flames turn into
A blazing inferno
of insults
and raised voices
And offended
Righteousness,
The hatred
burying pain
and fear,
The fists of our
False courage
pummeling blindly;

Then inferno
runs out of fuel
And blaze
collapses into
ashes
And smoky anger
dissipates,
Revealing crushed
dreams and
Broken hopes
And lost relationships-

And we think that
This
is how to
Love.

-KJ Roe

Kindred

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Photo by http://keywordsuggest.org/236284-laugh.html

There is a language
that draws us all in
A cadence
that builds every bridge
Moments in time
held in crystal clarity
As the joy bubbles
up from within
And breaks out
in a wild dance
Of liberated laughter
And open-mouthed grins
And the music
A symphony of shining eyes.

-KJ Roe