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Excerpt for Poems of Longing and Hope by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



Poems of Longing and Hope

a collection



Copyright 2018 Crystal Crawford

Published by Crystal Crawford at Smashwords




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Table of Contents

Introduction

Words

We Are

Untitled

Untitled 2

Thoughts of Caving Inward

This Jagged Nail

The More Permanent Parts of You

The Messengers

A Sonnet to the Stars

So Far Away

Seeing the Tears Falling from Your Eyes

Plastic Doll

Shadow Captive

Pandora’s Box

Packaging

My Turn

Fracture

For Mom

Eulogy

About Crystal Crawford

Other books by Crystal Crawford

Connect with Crystal Crawford







Poems of Longing and Hope

Introduction


I have always felt there is a beauty in sadness, for it is the darkness without which you cannot appreciate the light.

In my mid-20’s, I went through a period of extreme pain and sadness. I faced one heartbreak after another, until I felt I would burst or fall to pieces. During that time, poetry was one of the few things that helped keep me together.

These poems are the actual poems I wrote during those few years when pain was everywhere I turned. But through it all, I clung to hope… hope that things would change, hope that it would all be better someday, somehow. I was right, but I couldn’t know that then. I could only hope. That hope carried me through to where I am today, and you can see it peeking out in these poems, though it is sometimes buried by sadness.

To me, these poems are like a journal of not just my pain – which seems so far away now it’s almost like a vivid dream – but also my strength, my hope, the belief I clung to, the triumph I experienced in coming out the other side into beautiful brightness. It is a record of part of what made me who I am today.

If you are in a place of sadness, my wish is for these poems to show you that you are not alone, and to show you that as deep as my pain was, today my life is full of joy and brightness… and if it happened for me, it can happen for you. There is always hope.


Words


I wish these words could change the world,

Could take away all the pain

From my heart and others’

And turn it into something beautiful.


I wish these words could turn back time,

Could change the past,

Give a second chance

To those like me who so desperately need one.


I wish these words could alter the future,

Make a better life,

Give us something to hope for

With the coming of tomorrow.


I wish these words were magic,

That they had fierceness and fire and power,

And gentle, calming grace

All at once.


If my words had any magic behind them,

I’d write till my fingers lay numb

And my mind stuttered blindly in silence.

I’d write things of beauty and nobility,

Of might and gentle power,

Of calmness and fierce justice and peace.


I wish that these words could make change,

Any kind of change,

In the tall, rigid walls that surround me.

I wish they could change my path,

Even slightly –

A change of scenery, of pace,

Of location or destination.


I wish that wishing made a difference…

And that words were more than lines on a page.




We Are


We

are fragile creatures,

shivering shadows

whose reality depends on the sustenance of others.


We

are

Untitled


Etching my heart on the page

in lines of ink –


I am a wanderer, lost

in the wilderness of lines

I myself have created.


Their strokes rise up before me,

these words,

their cadence calling me

in tribal rhythms

to where they dance around the fire amidst a sea of barren sand.


These words, they are hunters;

they have lured me to an open place –

a small oasis in the sand.


They are masters of ensnarement, these words,

and they rise up suddenly around me;

like many tall trees sprouting up from a desert

they surround me, envelop me.


I am lost in the midst of them,

and I am content to be so.


Untitled 2


All of the rainbows are gone from the sky

Leaving barren promises

And dried-out grass.


But if I can’t have a can’t have a rainbow,

I want lightning

And thunder that shakes to the soul;

I want torrents of flash-flooding water

To sweep me away,

Away…


I sit on my barren hilltop,

Held in place by concern for destruction,

Under a sky full of impotent clouds.

And my tears are beginning a river,

Cutting ridges into the hillside.


I cry for myself, and for you,

And for the creatures who live and suffer,

For the butterflies who struggle mightily

And beat fragile wings against walls of chrysalis

Only to die two weeks later.


Yet if by my tears I could wash

Your sorrow into happiness,

Or secure you against that creature’s fate –

That fluttering ghost of a creature

Which must suffer, and beat wings, and die –

If by my tears I could spare you

From even the least of it,

Then I would cry until my heart grew dusty,

Until my last trembling drop of wetness fell earthbound,

And my body crumbled into ash.


Thoughts of Caving Inward



Rebirth.

I want a rebirth;

I want a second chance at life and an opportunity to be whole again.


I want the ability to take these broken pieces,

Shards of my heart,

And patch them together with paste and rubber cement

Until they shape into something whole again.

I’ll even take some staples;

Painful though they may be, staples still

Would hold my heart together,

Would make me feel like I am one again.

Is there a future for a shattered soul?

Can shards of memories and dreams

Ever be reformed into anything,

Anything

That isn’t cracked and broken?


Daily fragments are chipped away

From my dreams that once were,

From my heart that once was

Filled with hope and ambition.

My hope and ambition are leaking,

Drained out through the cracks

Til only a few stray drops are left,

Still holding on by the sheer force

Of molecular cohesion.


I keep waiting for my soul to shatter,

But some unknown force holds it tightly,

firmly,

together into a quivering mess that pleads for the freedom to crumble.

I am held together by outside forces pushing inward,

By pure atmospheric pressure,

While inwardly the current slowly erodes the caverns

Which tremble and threaten to collapse.


My peculiar atomic construction

Desires the freedom to reform itself;

It longs for something to collapse inward

So that the elements can recombine

Into something that resembles a future.


Can shattered dreams ever be rebuilt?

I have glue and cement and even staples,

But my fractured pieces are still stuck to what once was –

They are dangling from its broken frame –

And until they are freed,

They can never be anything better.




This Jagged Nail


My fingernail chipped today,

The red paint flaking off to reveal the jagged edge of a broken entity;

Listless nail, caught sideways on the edge of the table --

It gave in without a struggle.


This fractured nail stands exposed

Against the wholeness of the other nine,

Declaring its vulnerability and imperfection,

A failure in uniformity.


I feel strangely sympathetic to this jagged nail,

This broken segment of my own being;

Within, my soul is shouting,

“I, too, am broken!”

Yet this ragged nail, stiff appendage to my flesh,

Declares its misery to the world,

While my cries melt slowly within me.


I, too, am broken --

Paint chipped, white surface exposed,

Crack splitting to the quick.


This jagged nail will heal itself;

But I, too, am broken…


The More Permanent Parts of You



The floor is cloaked with bits of hair,

And you sit, startled,

As if each hair beneath you were a tiny bit

Of yourself,

Detached,

Waiting to be discarded into a wastebin.


“I’ve tried so hard to be strong,” you say,

And we put our arms around you;

We tell you “Yes, you have been.

You have been very strong.”

And it’s true. You have.

But it has nothing to do with your hair.


A person’s identity cannot be as transient

As hair falling out in pieces day by day,

Strands of hair, coming out on brushes,

Now in clumps, bit by bit

Scattered across the floor.


The floor is sprinkled with bits of hair,

And you sweep it and sweep it until you are tired,

And still more drifts down

To take its place.


The floor is cloaked with bits of hair,

And to you it is bits of you falling,

A strand of identity here by your foot,

A bit of yourself over there by the trash bin,

A piece of your attractiveness caught up in a comb,

A length of youth stuck to the back of your shirt.


“It’s just hair,” you remind yourself,

But you aren’t convinced; you don’t feel it –

You can’t see that as the strands of hair are leaving you,

They are only lifting the veil

So that the world can see the more permanent parts of you –

The courage that can’t be dyed or cut or styled;

And the strength that could never even fit in a wastebin.


The Messengers


I’ve fallen in step with my shadow –

or have I become it?

It’s hard to tell

these days;

all my thoughts seem but

a shadow of someone else’s dreams.


Dreams; they have fallen like diamonds

out of a priceless ring that now is

not so priceless –

forsaken –

an empty setting for an empty mind.


A mind that is given to laughter,

yet laughs mostly at itself, mocking,

silencing voices of anger, and

ridiculing powers of thoughts;

thoughts that now gallop like horses –

horses running free through the mountains,

and wild!


Wild as the drums in my mind,

beating the rhythm of my thinking,

and wild as the pain in my heart,

a heart that is only a mirror –

a mirror reflecting the golden enlightenment

of others’ epiphanies;

a mirror reflecting the silence,

Silence, silence of thinking.


The thoughts scream loudly,

and my mind does not comprehend them.

Their screams are piercing, obscuring the message.


Where is the silence,

the silence of sleeping?


Upon the horizon, the horses are approaching,

carrying with them a message.

Will time await its arrival?


Will time pause

to remember the laughter? To remember

blue diamonds falling out of the clouds or

my eyes – liquid diamonds

pounding my pathway,

turning dust into mud.


A Sonnet To The Stars


In my life I’ve dreamed a million dreams,

Each one is like a star –

They shift with seasons, fade with time,

But I still know where they are.

For like stars, though they seem to move,

They’re stationed in my mind.

And when I look back, subtle as Earth’s slow spin –

It’s me that’s done the changing.


So Far Away


I remember holding you as a baby –

or did I really?

It’s gone so fast,

like a flicker, a

flash of lightning in the night sky.


I was no more than a child,

just barely older

than you… just barely

able to tell you how I loved you,

able to be there for you…


And now you’re so far away,

so far away

and it’s almost like it never happened,

almost like

I hardly know you;

almost like you’re gone.


And you’re so far away…

it’s almost like we’re only strangers;

and I’m holding on so tightly

to the past…


We were both just kids,

and friends, like sisters;

distance kept us so far away –


And now it’s almost like we’re strangers;

strangers, even though we’re family…


And you’re so far away


Seeing the Tears Falling from Your Eyes


Seeing the tears falling from your eyes

I realize

I never knew

I never knew how much I hurt you

I never knew how much I cared

I never knew how much I loved you

And I don’t know how to make it up to you

Please tell me how to make it up to you


Plastic Doll


I’m made of plastic,

or so it seems,

for no one seems to think it strange

that my outside never changes

despite what’s going on within.

I am a doll,

it seems,

a plastic doll with eyes that roll

to open when I’m tilted

and little strings to pull

to make me utter pleasant words.

I’ve had such dolls,

and never once did I imagine

that their fragile, flawless outsides

were just casings for a warring, beating

mess that lay within.

I am a doll,

it seems,

a plastic doll with pretty dresses

made to hide the hollow insides

just beneath the plastic shell.


Shadow Captive


I have fallen in step with my shadow,

I am trapped in its impotent grey.

And my feet cannot tread the green meadow –

They are covered in plaster and clay.


I am trapped in its impotent grey,

My poor hands withered now in its shade –

They are covered in plaster and clay,

From the many false gods they have made.


These poor hands withered now in its shade,

Torn and blistered from weaving failed dreams –

From the many false gods they have made,

Constant mending of raveling seams.


Torn and blistered from weaving failed dreams,

My hands cannot open the door –

Constant mending of raveling seams

Has left them raw, bloody, and sore.


My hands cannot open the door –

I am trapped in this room of mere shadows,

My hands are raw, bloody, and sore,

And my feet long to tread the green meadows.


I am trapped in this room of mere shadows –

My thoughts are all dusty and spent,

And my feet long to tread the green meadows,

Where the great thinkers of time came and went.


But my thoughts are spent, dusty and worn,

I have fallen in step with my shadow.

I want thoughts that are fresh as the morn,

Like the dew between toes in the meadow.


I have fallen in step with my shadow,

I have lost the Spring rain of my dreams,

And my feet long to tread the green meadows,

Where my thoughts used to flourish like weeds.


Pandora’s Box


Today I opened Pandora’s box,

Spilling fragments of my past

Onto the template of my future.


Isn’t it funny,

How our separate selves

Can be locked away,

Remembered only as shadows?


And isn’t it funny,

How I’m really just me,

The same me, yet not,

Transformed by my own choices?


And isn’t it funny,

Or maybe it isn’t –

That I lock my past in Pandora’s box,

Swearing never to open it


When with it I’m locking away

Myself…


The me who learned through pain

and tears

What it means to be reborn;

The me who fought the reign

of fears

And learned to truly mourn.


The me who stands before me now

Transformed through burning trials

Embracing self and pain of past,

The courage of honesty at last,

Unafraid to face the face I see

In that box’s mirrored surface.


And isn’t it funny,

To have been afraid

to open that fabled box –

That box that held a part of me


Beneath its mirrored surface.



Packaging


You tell me that I’m beautiful,

But what good does that do

When my heart is broken and my future is shattered?


Beauty is nice,

I suppose,

And if I have captivating eyes

And a charming smile,

Then perhaps I should be happy.


But behind my eyes

There is pain,

And behind my smile,

There is sadness;

And no matter how much praise you give the shell,

This case in which I dwell,

Its contents go untended,

Fractured and cracked and broken.

Packaged nicely, perhaps,

But that makes no difference

Really.


Eventually the package will fall apart,

And then what

will you do

with its contents?


My Turn


My tiny hand in yours

We walked through the crowds

I was never afraid of the strangers

With you there.


It can’t last forever,

That safe feeling of home,

But you gave me the strength

To be fine on my own.


And now it is my turn

To be there for you…

Now it is my turn.

It’s my turn to show you

That you made me strong,

And it’s my turn to show you

Just how much I’ve learned

From watching you.


You smiled and said “Thank you for coming…”

But where else would I be?

And the nurse only smiled because

She could see

How strong you were…


And now it is my turn

To be there for you…

It is my turn…


I saw the sadness

In your eyes

I saw you were frightened,

And tired…

But then you smiled and joked

About your hair,

And you fought through the fear

Of what you’ll have to bear.


And now it’s my turn to show you

You’ve made me strong,

And it’s my turn to be there along beside you.

And it’s my turn to show you

Just how much I’ve learned

From watching you.


Fracture


Sometimes a strange wave hits me,

and I’m pulled beneath the surface

where the pressure’s ever growing

as I’m sinking deeper, deeper,

and the force of it is building, spreading,

bursting, and it is burning, searing inward;

And then I feel a tiny fracture,

the faintest cracking in the shell

of what has been my perfect outside,

a flawless, painted-masque exterior;

And as the fracture quickly lengthens,

all that’s in me fights for freedom

and my soul seeps quickly outward

to the waters’ blackest depths;

And then I find that I am sitting,

pen in hand or hands on keyboard,

and the pain that’s in me growing shrieks within my very core;

And so I write and write and write

until the pain is all bled out of me,

until my heart has stopped its

beating, futile force into my veins;

Until my blood, my tears – my tears –

are liquid, soaked into the page

and I am empty.


For Mom


You said, “At least I won’t have to worry

About my hair getting messed up.”

And behind your eyes I could see

The fear.

But you were master of it –

It cowered there, like a shivering cub

In a cold, damp cave,

More afraid of you than you were of it.


You laughed, and the fear passed

Behind your eyes

Like clouds moving backlit red

Against the setting sun.


Your body is fighting itself

For life, carving out its bad parts

Like a dog gnawing on a withered limb;

But your mind is fighting your body

Like a general commands an army,

Like a law of nature, a gravitational force

Which allows a thing to float for a bit

But does not worry or doubt its end.


You were worried about losing your hair,

But this worry was only a shadow,

A darkened utterance of a fear

That flamed on tinders of death and uncertainty.


You laughed, and the fear cowered,

A struggling spark of what should have been a flame;

You were master of it –

You drowned it in hope and courage.


And the fear still passes behind your eyes

In a timid tiptoe –

More afraid of you than you are of it –

Because it is only a shivering cub,

But you are a force of nature.



Eulogy


"Let me tell you a bit about Mary Lou Flem,

And the life that she lived down in Whimsalee Bend.


In a ramshackled house down on Hackafee Lake,

sat a lonely old gal on the porch, eating cake.

And she rocked as she sat, in her creaky wood chair,

as the wind faintly blew through her silver-white hair.

So she sat, with her cat, while the sun rose and set,

‘til a lone passer-by walked up the front steps.

The old lady asked him why he was there,

but before he could answer, she was out of her chair.

She was up in his face, in ten seconds or less,

and this is the lecture she gave her young guest:


‘You think that I’m old, that I’m easy to sway…

but I’ve seen quite of few of you crooks in my day.

Don’t you try any gimmicks on me, you sly brute,

I’m a lot wiser gal than I seem, that’s the truth!

I know your kind! You’ll do no good ‘round here…

so just be on your way, now be gone, do ya hear?’

The man turned ‘round to leave, but he took just three steps

before she had a firm grip on the back of his neck.

Then she grabbed his left ear, drug him back to the chair,

and sat him right down as she talked to him there:

‘Sit! Lemme look at you. Yes, I see now…

your face looked familiar, though I didn’t know how.

You remind me of Bobby, my oldest, in Maine.

He once was a salesman; oh, that boy had the brains!

He could multiply twelve-digit numbers, like that;

he’d play Beethoven’s 5th with one hand ‘hind his back!

Oh my Bobby was brilliant… you know, you’ve got his eyes!

That same sparkling blue… like today’s gorgeous sky…’


The man tried to leave that front porch more than once,

but the old lady insisted on cake and fruit punch.

And then she began a discourse on her youth,

and about her late husband, and the ache in her tooth.

And then, she grew quiet… and eased down into a chair,

and as she started to sob, the man tried not to stare.


‘My dear Bobby won’t call me, he’s too busy with life.

He’s got five little children, and his job, and his wife.

So I sit, all alone, in this chair, every day,

and I watch all the kids on the street run and play.

And I think of my Bobby; I wish he would call…

but I know that he loves me. That’s enough…’


Her voice trailed off slowly, like the last bit of life had been sucked out of her body. The man gently whispered, ‘Ma’am, are you alright?’

but she gave not a sound in reply.


This I tell you because that old gal was my mother,

and I called the next day, to tell her I loved her…


…but I called her too late.”

###


About the Author

Crystal Crawford is a writer of fiction and creative nonfiction. She believes in meticulous creativity -- carefully crafted stories that impact and entertain readers. She loves connecting with her readers and interacting with them online via Facebook, Wattpad, and email. She also reaches writing classes and runs a blog and a YouTube channel which provide tips for writers. For more information or to see more of her writing, visit http://ccrawfordwriting.com.


Other books by this author

Please visit your favorite ebook retailer to discover other books by Crystal Crawford]:


Legends of Arameth Series

The Edge of Nothing: The Lex Chronicles, Book 1


The Stalker Mystery Set

I’m Not a Stalker

The Five Suspects

The Choice


Memoirs

The Unspoken Language: An Animal Trainer’s Memoir

Unbreaking: How Giving Up Saved Our Marriage


Writing Guides

Surprise Endings: How to Keep Your Readers Guessing (and Why You Can’t Fool Everyone)

Scrivener & Scrivener Alternatives: Software Reviews


Plus an assortment of short stories, novellas, and more! To find out more about these titles (and other works by Crystal Crawford), visit http://ccrawfordwriting.com/books



Connect with Crystal Crawford]

I really appreciate you reading my book! I love connecting with my readers... here’s how you can find me!:


Check out my website at http://ccrawfordwriting.com for more of my writing, and visit my blog with tips for writers!


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