Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve 2014

Well, I guess I've reached the age of being semi-out of touch with the young people.  I am listening to the music in New York and really do not recognize any of it.  The individuals I would have aired for being the stars of 2014 are John Legend with his song "All of Me" and Pharrell Williams with "Happy." I do have to admit, I very much liked Idina Menzel's song, "Let it Go," performed in New York.

John Legend's beautiful ballad touches the soul, and Pharrell's song made for an international incident with Iran when young people decided to perform a dance video without their head scarves or burkas.

As for other memorable events of 2014, I cannot forget the terrible heartache of the people of Malaysia who have lost 3 airplanes, which took so many lives.  The pain is unimaginable.

Also, I find sadly that, we as an American people continue to struggle with our own humanity by brutalizing each other with horrible racist remarks and brutal killings. This is a nation that must come together for the benefit of all.  The blood that flows through our veins bleeds like a red river in the streets when one perishes whether Black, White, Asian, Middle Eastern, Native American and for Nations to numerable to name them all.  We must unite with treaties that are as impartial as they can be to create a world that is better for all future generations.

I must acknowledge my own frailties and to recognize when I have erred in my life to make me a better person.  I am at that point in my life where I am comfortable with whom I am and my goals now focus on sharing my thoughts with a new generation.

2014 is coming to a close and my life is moving in a positive direction.  I am a much better place mentally, emotionally and physically, and I assign that to a higher authority that I choose to call God, but my God has no face and no allegiance to a particular religion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=450p7goxZqg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5hpv_Ji5_s

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Holocaust: Jewish Russian Eyes

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/recounting-memory-mara-jevera-fulmer/1120504135?ean=9780975872758&isbn=9780975872758                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    RECOUNTING MEMORY:
Flint-area Holocaust Survivors & Youth Dialogue with History, Mara Jevera Fulmer, EDITOR


I have had the opportunity to speak individually with Bettya & Michael Kurkis and with Leonid Litvak on a regular basis because of my move to the Flint community. I feel welcomed and embraced by these people.

Bettya has been extremely helpful in teaching me limited Russian words.  I plan to study more so that I may become conversant in the language.  Bettya provided me with the book, as edited by Mara Jevera Fulmer, to read and gain an understanding of the Jewish Russian experience during WWII when she was a little girl.

The collaborative project to produce the book, Recounting Memory, with Mott Community College students and local area high school students is an excellent introduction into presenting a unique perspective of the Holocaust, which depicts the horrific conditions under which Bettya & Michael and Leonid survived.

Michael did not begin school until age eleven and only had the opportunity for four years of study. This book is an excellent read to provide young people with the insights on the war, and the prologue is a genuine interpretation presented by students subsequent to their having met with the Holocaust Survivors.

The book lends itself to classroom discussion, but should not be read as a critical interpretation of the English language, as there are grammar errors within the text due to the natural barriers in language.

I urge educators and those who just love to read to obtain a copy of this book via the provided link above.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Oliver Twist and I could have been Soul Mates

As a young girl growing up at St. Vincent Sarah Fisher Home, I read the Madeline books by Ludwig Bemelmans and watched the television cartoons.  At the time, I thought he must be writing about me. I was named Madeline and we normally had twelve girls in a cottage headed by a Nun.  I related to the character because I was small like her, and I admired her not being afraid by saying "Pooh, pooh, to the tiger in the zoo." I have to admit I was some what disappointed to learn he was not writing about me.

My Foster Grandmother Jeannette McGowan made sure I had plenty of fun books to read. I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and she taught me how to read my first book, On the Ranch. When I left the orphanage, Grandma Jeannette and I kept in contact.  When we moved from Detroit to Royal Oak, I learned we were only blocks from each other.  I had the opportunity to meet her twin sister who did not look anything like Grandma Jeannette.  Her sister's name was Florence. Florence was tall; whereas, Jeannette was small.  They were equally enjoyable.

I never had a chance to say goodbye to Grandma Jeannette.  I was working at Beaumont Hospital when she was suffering from pneumonia.  We chatted briefly. She was with her, nephew, who was a priest.  Later that summer, I suffered my first breakdown, three days after my 18th birthday, in 1981. When I went to check on her, the building attendant said, she was no longer there. My heart was broken.  I lost many loved ones during different hospitalizations and I had to learn to cope with their departing and my not being able to say goodbye.

I know decisions I made throughout my life were in large part based on my upbringing, which at times caused for me to be in emotional turmoil.  I cannot change the past, but I can focus on the present, which will effect the future.

Ah, but back to books.  My favorite author is Charles Dickens because his characters are vibrant and real.  Naturally, Oliver Twist  and David Copperfield are two of my favorite.  Both books deal with the struggles of  children living on the streets.  The streets may have been the home of the children, but for the orphanage where the Daughters of Charity offered a supportive environment to care for the children. When I was child, Sr. Helen allowed us to watch Oliver Twist on the television, I thought Fagin was funny and fun with his pick-pocket tricks and for awhile I used to try to practice the skill.  No harm, I would just slip a comb out of a back pocket and giggle if the person had not noticed when I handed the comb back.

I attempted to read Pickwick Papers, but did not finish the book and it may be because the book was written in newspapers before being compiled together.  I read Hard Times and truly appreciated its authenticity. The book truly captures economic woes.  Additionally,  I enjoyed reading A Tale of Two Cities. I had a wonderful teacher Mrs. McHale who guided us in a literature class my Sophomore year of high school and exposed me to many other authors.  Dickens, however, remains my favorite. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Woven Dreams

In my eyes
See generations
Hair displays a part of me
Hands reveal the work I've done
Feet the path I've traveled on
But listen to my words and you'll hear
The people I've met through the years
Hopes, dreams of what yet to be
Despair on bended knee
Head bowed in reconciling
Urn of life unclaimed on a shelf
Unmarked graves of the fallen
Longing arms of a child for love
Tears of the homeless
Nomads of the world
Street Poetry unparalleled
Virgin Prose spoken, but few will ever hear
For the street requires a special ear
A beat reporter whose crossed the line
Touched the dark and danced in day
Seen the troubles
Felt the bitter cold
Brethren of the street, the peddler already knows
The dance of angels on desperate wings
Sings the song of solace and of special dreams
Where hearts cling to hope
An illusion of a home:  a mansion made of stone
Flight of angels
Work in unison
Rescue spirits of lonely ones
Temper the madness
A catalyst never dies
Spirit driven soul survives
Despite the winds and the torrid skies
To fain not in spite of what one sees
To capture the moment
Not to plea
The hour beckons the night cast her shade
Still the writer plugs away
Voice that resonates deep within
Spell that speaks tis not a sin
Kindred spirits walk the course
Touch time on a divided line
Where the metronome pauses for the memory
Of those gone before while the street beat reporter
Records the prose!

Friday, December 5, 2014

What's in a name: Madeline or Madeleine

For the first twelve years of my life, I was taught to spell my name Madeline O'Connor by the Nuns. It was not until I went home to begin schooling in the sixth grade at St. Benedict's in Highland Park, Michigan and began living with my real folks that I learned from my father that I had been spelling my legal name differently.  He peered over my shoulder as I was working on an assignment and said emphatically, "that is not how you spell your name."  "It is Madeleine O'Connor," he stated.

Mind you, I had had difficulty learning how to spell my name from the start.  I recall being taught in the first grade, Madeline O'Connor and not having spelled my name all summer by the second grade spelling my name Madeline Oconnor and being asked, "don't you know how to spell your name?" I squirmed in my seat and quietly, said, "no."

I loved numbers and working with math.  To me, math was easy.  Math was either right or wrong, and I felt comfortable working with numbers.  Math didn't talk back to me, in other words, I was in my own zone with math.

My English instructors never gave up on me and when I had Mrs. Bennet in sixth grade, I knew I had a teacher who connected with me.  She taught me about the benefits of having a thesaurus.  I pleaded with my father to get me the book.  He did not want to spend the money at first, $25.00 I read from the jacket cover.  My father worked at J.L. Hudson's Company in Downtown Detroit and for him that was a huge expense.  Mrs. Bennet encouraged me to read, and one day I had an assignment on sharing about a book I had read.  Sometimes it could be hard to get up in front of a class, but she allowed me to tell my story using a cassette in which I recorded the story.

In sixth grade, Sr. Adaline taught me social studies and we sang songs in French.  There were times it was difficult for me to sit in class, but she allowed me to help her with the bullentin boards.

Also in sixth grade, I had Sr., (I can't remember her name, maybe because she was kind of mean), who taught math and science, my best subjects.  Sadly, that year I learned nothing in math, but maybe it was a blessing in disguise as writing allowed me to learn how to deal with things that a young mind simply could not fully understand.  The funny thing is when I took the Michigan Teacher Certification Test.  I passed all three areas:  English, math and science on the first try, but just like the old days, my scores in math and science remained higher than in English.

At one point, I discovered an old diary I wrote that went through the fifth grade and I discovered many of the letters were backwards or upside down like "e."  Though I was never formally diagnosed I struggled with dyslexia.  There were examples in this text, but I am able to catch most of the errors. My mind requires me to try to see the mistakes as an example, I wrote "backwords" instead of backwards and I caught my error before the computer had to correct me.

Computers have made my life much easier and whether you know me as Madeline, Madeleine, Maddy, MO and so many other names, I am just happy to have a name.  Legally, I have had to write my name both as Madeline and Madeleine because so many documents were produced with those versions, but if I ever have the opportunity to meet you call me by the name of your soul and your language.




Monday, December 1, 2014

Friends Are My Anchor

At times it was difficult for me to get close to people,
I had gotten used to them coming and going, 
This started so young for me--living in an orphanage from less than two to twelve.
When I made friends at school at least they did not come and go,
Sadly, though one day I was told I would be going home with my folks.

How could I explain I did not know them?
I was closer to other relatives.
I would be enrolled in a new school.
Every sense of who I was--lost in a decision I did not make.

Don't get me wrong,
I learned to respect my parents and even to love them in my own way,
They simply could not care for me,
But they never outright abandoned me.

Now I search for friends from youth in the faces I see,
Some of us have reconnected.
Some seem to be lost in the sands of time.
If by chance you happen to read this,
Know that I am looking still,

You were, are and always will be my friends.
I will remain an open book, 
So perhaps one day what I write will help one of you.
Thank you to all who made me who I am.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

If Pain Were A Lemon

If pain were a lemon, I've swallowed hard, but I've learned nothing will stop me from succeeding in my goals because I have too much to live for.  My obligation is to be the pillar for our family.  The bitter sweet berry creeps into the mind just as you enter your prime, when one is supposed to be making the leap from childhood into adulthood.  I recognize that my gifts are unique.  I choose to recognize that I have abilities not disabilities.

I discovered long ago I could draw, write, and compose songs with the guitar.  The world may choose to beat you down, but I say don't allow this, reach deep within your soul and profess the inner beauty that you were granted at birth. We are the image of those who bore and the essence of those we know and love.  If you lose everything, claw again to discover the who of I am. Never lose sight of the fact, that each of us was once in the womb, and it was circumstance that lay to bare the children we were and the adults we became.

I will not lie and say I have never been without hope, but I have always been able to fight back. Maybe that is the Irish in me.  Life may knock me down, but as long as I live and breath, I will rise again. I look forward to the day when all who walk with the stigma of an illness are not identified this way, but rather are known by their name.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Anger vs Peace

Anger is such a raw emotion.  When it is not harnessed, in an instant it can change a situation from calm to explosive violence.  So how does one learn and teach peace?  Is anger justified?  Of course it is a part of human existence and there are times when it is warranted, but learning how to stay calm and advocate for oneself in the process of wrongdoing requires skill.  I will never be an advocate of violence because it leaves so many victims behind.  I do believe; however, that one must stand up for oneself in the event of  inappropriate conduct.  The way I choose to stand up is by allowing my voice to be heard through the written word.  My priority is to reach out not only to my children who are now grown adults, but also to many young people and their mentors to carry the torch of peace so violence will not result in places such as Ferguson, Missouri.  Violence begets violence.  Peace will leave an indelible mark for change and a lesson for a lifetime.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Passing Through

No matter how grey the sky or the snow piled high,
The lack of direction or the feeling of isolation,
Learn how to survive and keep your head held up,
This world too quickly writes people off and looks the other way,
Ah, but I say find that inner strength--dig deep down within,
Your body may be older now, but do not give up on your dreams.
The torch must burn in your heart and you may have to be the only one who believes in you,
But my, when success comes,
You will know that it is because you never gave up on yourself,
If you find consolation through faith, then pray with all you might,
Never ever surrender because the chips are down,
Laugh at yourself, you've nothing to hide, God made you his perfect surprise.
When death is knocking upon your door open it slowly make sure you know who it's for,
Maybe you'll have one more day to smile before your final breath.
I am grateful for each day I am sane,
For that I cannot complain.
Orphanages, institutions, foreclosure and deaths are merely my obstacles, but I have yet to see my final quest.
Mental Illness does not make me who I am,
I choose to be defined by what I do while I am here and by what I will leave behind.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

SSI proves no help to me

The snow is blowing hard outside, but I bundle up and head outside thankful that I am alive.  My debts are mounting, but I press on because I know somehow, one day my efforts will pay off.  I have to laugh and take it in stride when it seems Social Security continues to mess up my life.  Several trips to the office to try and make sure everything is right with letters in hand saying I am entitled to x number of dollars is now being stated as a problem.  They claim now the Social Security Income portion was in excess of $2,000 they paid over the past several months.  I cannot believe how ridiculous the whole thing is.  I have been paying for everything, no bridge card here. I have no car, so I ride the bus.  I refuse to be a bah hum bug, but if this plea were to reach the President's ear, knowing he is an attorney, I think even he would agree the Federal Government and Social Security need to fix this matter.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Life Circumstances

As the years go on, I realize how fortunate I am that despite the life circumstances that I have faced, I feel like a mended being who is now in control of my destination.  If  I visit a difficult time in my life, I do it in a manner that does not affect my present situation.  The best possible way I have discovered to do this is by writing about the past and surrendering it to experience.  I would not choose to have any other being go through what happened to me, but I know there were special people in my life who were like angels in my hour of need.

I alluded to the foster grandparent program at the orphanage.  These people were god sent.  I could count on them to come on a regular basis, but I also learned about death through this program.  My first grandparent who preferred to be called Uncle Hobart came to see me on Fridays, I believe.  One day he did not come and I asked Sr. Margaret Ann where was Uncle Hobart.  Her response made me feel horrible, but I could not cry.  I could never cry in public.  She said Uncle Hobart had been driving against doctors orders and struck a telephone pole dying instantly of a heart attack.  I am not sure how I knew what death was, but I knew he would not be coming back.

Later, Grandma Jeannette would be my foster grandparent.  Our relationship lasted beyond the orphanage as she and I would live merely streets apart from one another.  Sadly, I did not get to say goodbye to her when she passed away as I was hospitalized when this happened.

Grandma Abbey was wonderful person who crocheted hats and scarfs for the girls.  One day she did not come for awhile and I asked her why she had not been coming.  She told me her daughter had been in a horrible car accident (prior to seat belts and car seats), she was holding her newborn and the baby flew out the window.  I listened and snuggled a little closer to her then.

I am grateful for so many people in my life because it easily could have been steered permanently off course.   

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Potential Within

What many individuals may not realize is that there are tax incentives for companies that hire individuals with disabilities.  The individual may be highly skilled, but the company may not pay an equitable rate of pay for the individual because of the disability.

The dilemma then becomes does the individual who has say a mental disability, which may not be a visible illness, inform the potential employer or keep it a secret so he/she can reap the benefits of insurance, 401k, paid time off etc.

Whether or not one wants to admit it, stigma surrounds many illnesses including mental illness. Sadly, the potential of individuals may be lost because of the difficulties in trying to assimilate into society.

I am aware of individuals who were caught in the mental health hospitals so long that their emotional progression halted and their education stopped before attaining a high school diploma.  Additional educational difficulties may include special needs, affecting speech, reading and eye hand coordination or other abilities.

Housing in the form of HUD or section 8 for low income individuals is available, but at what cost to tax-payers.  If these same individuals were permitted to discover the talents within, what would the contribution to society be?

Group homes are often poorly managed and individuals are subjected to unspeakable abuse.

Education is currently available for individuals through age 26, but often there are many barriers to completing that education including transportation. Young people just learning they have a lifelong mental illness find accepting the fact they will need medication for the rest of their life often choose to rebel, which interferes with their ability to acquire the high school diploma let alone a college degree.

Bottom line parents or loved ones of those with disabilities are the lifeline to assuring the best advocacy for those affected.

The summer before entering my senior year of high school, I was working for Neurosurgeons and contemplating a career in the medical field. By the end of the summer, I had my first breakdown. About six months later, I began the road to recovery.  I had fulfilled all of the requisites to graduate except for a religion class (Catholic) and government.  A relative who stood by my side through thick and thin made sure I graduated from high school by transporting me every day for six weeks to Immaculata High School in Detroit where I successfully completed my coursework.

This same relative urged me to go onto college.  I earned a B.S. in English, language and literature from EMU and an Associate in Business Administration from Oakland Community College.  I attended other colleges as well lacking direction, but thankfully I was encouraged to continue.  I have had the privilege to work in both the regular classroom and with special needs.  Additionally, I have success as an independent contractor working for various newspapers.

My dream is to encourage others by example to never give up no matter how difficult the challenge and to be a mentor to those who need a listening ear.




Thursday, November 6, 2014

Babushka

I listen attentively to the Russian Jews who speak in the coffee room where I reside.  I do not know what is being said, but like a child, I try to understand.  Their patience with me makes me feel loved. Over and over again, I try to practice even the basic word .. Привет! (Privét!) - inf. Hello.

They speak with me in broken English, but I have learned one individual used to play base in the Russian Symphony Orchestra, another has left an ex-husband behind. There are stories of Aushwitz, and the pain associated with such woes.

When I was a child in an orphanage, we had foster grandparents and the loved shared by them surrounded me with warmth.  The Russians rekindle that feeling.

Perhaps, one day individuals will recognize that our moral responsibility is to view one another with the love and kindness that we felt in our mother's womb. 

Unfortunately, not all infants feel this, but fortunately, most do, and if the world is kind when that infant enters the world--even during difficult circumstances; perhaps, that child's voice will become the one that offers reforms that improve the lives of so many others.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Baby Christmas

     When I was about ten or eleven years old, while living at St. Vincent Sarah Fisher Home for Children, Sister Helen had me work with a baby who had a body cast from her hips on down. The baby's name was Christmas. When I asked Sister what had happened to her, she told me her father had thrown her against a wall. I could always count on Sister telling me the truth even when it was hard to hear.

     I loved this precious baby as if she were my own. Her skin was dark and her eyes black as marbles. Her smile was endearing and I simply could not understand how a father could do this to his own child. I was glad I had the opportunity to work with her, but like all of my orphaned friends one day she disappeared.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Soldier, Stutterer, Somalian War

I knew a soldier who happened to stutter,
He struggled with the demons he had from war
Drug affliction, his drugs of choice alcohol and heroin

He couldn't find his place at home
His balance thrown off by what he had known
Cats, the vultures on human carcasses

He tried so many times to rediscover the man inside
But his pain was strong
And it was not long that he wandered from the path

The VA was not there in his pain and despair
He was found alone in the apartment he had
No proper military farewell

His last ride was with a friend on Harley through the Ville
His remains in an urn
Strapped to the bike

Laid to rest at a half way house
The urn discreetly placed
The Soldier, Stutter of the Somalian War

He could not utter the cry kept inside,
But for the few who knew his story
And dared to offer a glance and Salute the Man!


Friday, October 17, 2014

Homelessness comes to my door

In 2011, my world slowly crashed before my eyes.  I was foreclosed upon and my 18 year old son had to learn how to be a man.  Mental health services on a national level are the silent disgrace of the United States of America.  I was facing homelessness and for the first time in my life, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do.  I was working as a substitute teacher assistant and interning at a radio station.

Livingston County Community Mental Health made no provisions for my situation knowing full well I would be homeless.  Certainly they would not take me seriously when I suggested I could live at a park. I was told point blank I could live at the park and meet with them at the Howell coffee shop for updates.  Common sense says a park is not a solution. Then the kindness of gentle soul I knew stepped up and indicated that he had a spare bedroom.  I sublet the apartment and for five months I tried to make a go of it.  Sadly, this fella had issues.  He suffered a seizure one day, and I called for medical assistance.  Authorities took him to the local hospital who indicated there was no evidence of  a seizure.  Yeah right.  I worked with special needs students, I knew the identifiers including the shaking body and drooling at the mouth.  My objective was to clear the area so he would not be hurt and to call for immediate assistance. Two weeks later, this man dropped dead in his own bed in the early morning hours.  He was only 38 years old.  He practically owned a pharmacy with the amount of medications he was prescribed including narcotics, which were not being properly monitored.

I know I am not alone in observing the dereliction of duty running rampant in the mental health system.  Reforms need to happen at a state level and hopefully, the State of Michigan could serve as the model for what the system should look like at national level.

If you have ideas for reform, please feel free to email me at grhmadeleine@aol.com.

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Voice of the Troubadour

Everyone of us from conception is born to die.
The life we are given is filled with inherent struggles.
Genetic difficulties may make the struggles ever so much more pronounced.
The challenge then becomes not to silence a voice because of stigma,
But to be the troubadour who resounds I am here as God intended me to be!

I shall not be forgotten, my obligation is to never forget those who have helped me
My duty is to protect the homeless, to be the sympathetic ear, to challenge the status quo.  Sadly, many falsely believe homelessness is a choice.  My responsibility is to make life better not just for myself, but for all.

The world I have seen in Michigan is deplorable.  Individuals are living in filth because the mental health system, and the department of human services system allows this to happen. Additionally, Snyder in his poor judgement appointed James K. Haveman as the Director of Community Mental Health in the state of Michigan. Speak to any mother who has had her son or daughter inappropriately housed in a jail or prison, and one will become even more stealth on advocating against a system, which is so badly broken not only in Michigan, but nationally.

At the Federal level, Social Security Income restrictions of $2,000 per month, limit an individual from trying to better oneself. The so called spend down generates waste. Services are inappropriately provided and unnecessary paperwork is generated.  The old saying of give a person a fish versus teaching one how to fish holds true today. The sad reality, however, is the teaching never seems to happen, subsequently, the poverty becomes more apparent. Take a stand to be the Americans we were taught to be when ideology in the Democratic Republic was not just a dream, but a belief.

I urge my fellow Americans to unite and draft proposals that your legislators will be forced to consider for adoption.  This is not the time for despondency, it is the time for ACTION! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

One of Many

There is an illness we try to hide, 
locked in generations and hidden by pride. 
A family is devastated and does not understand, 
while older members prefer to pretend.
A torture and peril rips through the soul:
Leaving emptiness, void of a goal.
Still generations live on--

But eyes are opened by one that sees 
Inquisitive, troubled victim is she
To explore and understand
To somehow comprehend
what is this illness 
That destroys the brain
Leaving sorrow, anger and pain--

Surely there is an answer somewhere.
Surely there is a reason for despair,
But why does a family continue to retreat
Behind the walls of facades and defeat
To rise above and live beyond 
This meddlesome, troublesome thorn in the side
This is the goal 
A new generation holds--

To conquer, to prevail, to achieve
To be as normal as normal can be 
To live with the illness,
But not to succumb
To have open eyes 
To recognize the signs
This is the attitude
Of a new generation
To function, to be--contributors in society--

Mental illness exists; this is true 
But survivors are many
Productive souls need not hide
Beneath fallacies, masks and lies.
Society shuns the sick and oppressed,
 A world has its norms
New shoes must be worn
God forbid there be an aberrant--

Hell, I am what I am 
And what I am ain't bad
For I am me--a soul with purpose
An individual with a goal
I seek truth
I strive for happiness
And God willing I too will be successful
In a world that demands conformity--

I cannot alter who I am
But I can help people to understand 
This illness we too often try to hide
That is locked in by generations and hidden by pride
God willing I will succeed
For I am an envoy for those who still bleed!




Composed after my first bout with mental illness at the age of 18. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Epitaph

What hue are you?
I am the color of the rainbow.
My colors reach far beyond the sky we see.

I am the parabola that has no end.
The life extended by the one before me.
The hourglass that encapsulates time--
To be turned over and begun again.

I am my shadow as my shadow is me
A reflection of what I was, who I am and of whom I have yet to be.
The water that speaks with each ripple each yields.
I am the sunflower in the field.

I walk now with gray hair, and with hips and knees that creek.
I am, however, still able to learn from those who've come before and after me.
I am molded by those I meet with similar stories of the street.
I'm glad God gave me this path at this time.
His eyesight is clearly better than mine.

Perhaps one day, our paths will cross.
I'll be holding the skipping stone.
Waiting yet again, to learn another thing.

I entered this world in the arms of someone.
But if I close my eyes, and you are not able to attend--
Do not be sorry, I'm just glad I had you as a love and a friend.
 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Old Man

Old Man
By Madeleine Graham

Old man sitting in the street, why you lookin' at me?
Do you know more than I: can you see what we all must some day realize?
What have you experienced?
What have you seen?
Tell me story, share it with me---
Can't you see I need to know, please hear me!!!

He pauses from his gaze, and he looks me straight in the eyes.
He tells me life is beautiful, live it day by day.
Understand life for it is the essence of mankind---
The branch that stems to the future,
And the road that leads to eternal peace.
For in living day by day, you'll understand all that once you did not. 

As the flowers of life unfold---
You'll see Heaven spelled in gold.
I turn to thank the Old Man for the wisdom that he has shared, 
but he is no longer there.
His words, however, become engraved in my mind.
Words to be shared with all mankind.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cultural Crossings

Cultural Crossings
By Madeleine Graham
Introduction
Let the customs of the age be reflected on the stage
Let them understand the bow the nod
Why he walks ahead and she walks behind
And understand the curtsy now
The blend of color and of creed
Oh let them all please agree
As they pass upon the street
Of timeless wisdom they will observe
The elders teaching in song and dance
Of stories told through time
When lives are reconciled as grayness befalls each
The things that seemed important are no longer so
Let the children know
Why courtesy is a way of life
Preventing anger and strife
If only each of us could see
Our brothers own humanity
And present the torch unto our young
Generations must carry on
Remove the hatred born of war
Scarred lives tender souls
Hands that cross the great divide
Need a healer from the sky
If we look into our brother's eyes
And see our own image
Then never a weapon born by I
For the mirror is a timeless passage
Beat the drum the echo is from the past
Voices that share the heartache once known as theirs
Woman with child
Beaten while in exile
Auschwitz horrors still resound
But peace requires the quilted patch
Sewn through tears given in love
Orphans of new wars need not be
If we could all simply agree
The children must see they are our future
The waters that bridge this great divide
Need a healer with prophetic eyes
We are the molders of their beliefs
If we teach hate
Callous hearts will walk the streets
If we teach love in troubled times
Even when pain has come to our abode
Then a moral compass will guide the children home
If we see ourselves void of color and of creed
Then truly we our free
Blood that flows through our veins
The branch between past and present
Blood brothers and sisters are we
Faith requires forgiveness
If we left our money at the bankers door
Saw our fellow man in his struggle
Shared what we had to offer
Neighbors would no longer be strangers
Understanding requires listening
Skills come in so many forms
Hunger knows no color no creed
War ravages and leaves so many on desperate knees
If we move into a barbaric state then we've but sealed our own fate
Communicating is the greatest challenge faced by every being
Words can be as a quick draw of a gun
Or the balm that soothes the soul
If we expect another to lower his weapon
Should we not be expected to bow ours as well
The nod of accord signaled in unison
Requires fear be left aside
Respect becomes the norm
And is taught to our young