Precipitous

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Sing me your lullaby
Dancing on a tin roof
Pattering and pounding
In soothing rhythm

Tell me your verses
Of evaporated hopes
Gatherings of condensation
And falling in a new land

Whisper my name
In ripples on still waters
In chattering of dripping eaves
And kisses on shivering leaves

Grant me sweet release
Cleansing my tangled mind
Sliding on moon-white skin
Seducing me with liquid touch

-KJ Roe

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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

Notice

Rainbow

I know you.

I know that sometimes you lie awake nights, mind spinning and rewinding and worrying.

I know sometimes you wonder what you’ve done wrong, and sometimes you know it, and sometimes forgiving yourself seems like the hardest thing to do.

I know you wish you could make things better, for yourself, for a friend, for someone you barely know.

Sometimes you sing in the shower, have solo concerts in your car, and dance with abandon around your house.

You pause to listen to the rain rattling on the roof and to admire the rainbow brightening the sky.

You make up plans and dream dreams that you’re not sure will ever come true.

You wonder what the future really holds and how you’re going to survive here and now.

You question, more than you’d like to admit, how you’re going to have the strength to face another day, another challenge, another crisis.

You build castles in the air while working the grind on the ground.

You come home… to a partner, to your kids, to your parents….or to an empty house.

You put on a good face. You stay strong. You keep going.

Some days you look inside yourself and see loneliness and helplessness eating away at you.

Those days you feel alone, adrift, and lost in the universe.

But you’re not.

You are not alone.

I feel it too.

Together, we face the loneliness.

Together, we fight the demons of despair.

Together, we are stronger than our fears.

We are not alone.

You and me, together.

You and me, admiring the rainbows.

~ 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

Breathe

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Breathe
Breathe in me
Your stillness, your quiet
Breathe in me
Your peace
Your hope
Your love so unbelievably deep

Breathe
Spill your laughter
Into my soul
So that it spills
Out of my lungs
Bubbling up in joy
And smiles
And moments of contentment

Breathe in me
The life you meant
For me to live
Whisper away
My fears and insecurities
Still the nervous
Echo of my heart
And the worries writhing in my veins

Breathe
Like the breeze in trees
Air currents on water
Breath that gives life
And words
And dreams
And peace

Breathe.

-KJ Roe

Gossamer

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Charcoal clouds scud across
An ocean of sky,
A thread of song running
Counterpoint to
The pictures in my mind,
An unintended soundtrack
Rising and falling
To a disparate rhythm-
Now background,
Now cacophony,
Full of its own words
Stories to tell in notes
And tunes and cymbals clashing
As I fall deeper in,
Like Alice,
Into imagination
And daydreams
And the realities of
Make believe
Until a warm touch
On my shoulder
Brings me out of my reveries,
Waking to the sun’s caress
Reaching through aged clouds,
Bidding me arise, awake,
Return from mushroom rings and
Flaming kings and
Queens of beauty bright.
Disconcerted, I raise my head,
Blink in unexpected light,
Summoned from
My home
To this strange and
Earthly life.
-KJ Roe