Home > Poems > A Saturday poem, a reprise from July 2016: “A Time to Grieve”

A Saturday poem, a reprise from July 2016: “A Time to Grieve”

I came across a printout of this post from July 8, 2016, as I was clearing out some papers from my office. I read the poem again and thought: wow, here we are in the midst of yet another crisis; maybe the worst one yet! And there will be grief, lots of grief. A new killer is on the loose, not with an automatic weapon designed for war but a tiny COVID-19 virus mutation out to kill as many as it can.

In the nearly four years since I wrote and published this poem the first time, we’ve experienced a lot of loss! I don’t think I need to go through a list;  you all know what I’m referring to. But there is still hope; there is still light; there is still love! As we go through the changes brought on by the virus and the mixed responses to it, there will be more loss. There will be more love! We need a lot more love!

So here is what I wrote about the time then, and here is the poem about grief:

From July 8, 2016:

You know there are no coincidences. Everything is in flow, in divine order. The other day I wrote briefly about reading “The Smell of Rain on Dust”, the latest book by my most esteemed teacher, Martín Prechtel. This lovely little book is all about “Grief and Praise” – its subtitle. As I said the other day I’ll write a complete review of it when I have finished savoring every word. But in the meantime I am struck that I have chosen the perfect time to be reading it. It is time to remember how to grieve!

It is with humility and the deepest respect that I offer this riff on Martín’s work. These are his thoughts that I heard from his lips as I sat learning at his feet and I read in his marvelous book. And I offer it to you as a way to cope with a world that seems off the rails. It is only love that can right the wreckage.

A Time to Grieve

We seem to drift, as a nation,
Ever more deeply into violence and divide;
More killings; cops killing “innocents” –
“Innocents” killing cops.
There is an emerging frenzy to this senseless,
Escalating violence. It is so much, so intense.
It is maddening.
And it is not clear where it will end; or when or how.

Martín knows how.
He has spoken and written about it over and over.
We as a nation – as a so called culture –
Have lost the ability to grieve.

In fact this ability has been taught out of us!
Go shopping instead!
This is always the remedy. Consume more.
Eat up the world to mask the grief.
Hide our losses and sorrow
And desperate need of relief through grief
In our purchases.

Salve the wounds over with stuff.
Feel better with that latest broach –
Pin it on over your heart as a shield to hide behind.
Pin together the tatters in your broken heart.
Pretend it is whole; mend the tears
And choke back the tears.

For Heaven’s sake don’t embarrass yourself
With any display that would reveal your vulnerable soul.
That will not do!
There is no comfort there; only in more stuff.
How else do we keep the wheels on this economy
That promises protection, plenty, prosperity for all
And that pursuit, so elusive, of a happy life?

Grief is equally elusive as happiness!
We are not allowed to grieve.
Three days off for our dearest family members.
Take your own time for friends. Then back to work;
Produce so you can consume more.
No, we are not eating the world! There is always more.

Oh, and there will always be poor. Jesus said so;
And he was right about everything.
And they killed him too!
Never mind the poor; they are not worth dying for.
They are not worthy of our life style.

It will end in one of two ways:

We may kill one another as the violence escalates
To a new world war – a Global War on Terror
Brought to you by terror. Fight terror with terror –
It is the American Way. Our violence begets more violence.
It matters not how it began – it only has a violent end.

Or, we may remember how to grieve.
We can go to the sea and cry a river to fill it.
Weep for the deaths.
Weep for the brutality.
Weep for a society gone so wrong.
Weep for the wars.
Weep for the enemies “following orders.”
Weep for the loved ones whose bones we stand upon.
Weep for us, victims and perpetrators alike.
We are all in this together;
And we will never get out alive!

And when we have wept that river
Flowing to the sea, it might then be time to
Remember something else:
Remember the love that brought us into existence.
Remember the beauty of the world.
Remember the generosity of the Universe
Offering enough and more!
Remember to offer in return our praise and gratitude.

There is a cycle to the loss and gain,
The constant flow of less and more.
Know wherever we are in this cycle
It will continue.
There must always be time for grieving
Because there will always be loss.
Life is loss.
There must always be time for praising
Because there is always gain.
Life is love.

Live life to the fullest in grief and praise!

©2016 Richard W. Bredeson. All rights reserved.

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