What do you do to #BeatTheBlues, to rise from the depths of darkness and keep going with all your might?
What a great question! I am a relentlessly, annoyingly optimistic person, so my list of activities is long.
First, anytime I'm feeling down I try to help someone who actually needs and wants my assistance. Helping others usually gets me out of my own head, where it's easy to obsess and dwell on the dark and downsides of life. I also realize, when I am paying attention to others, how minuscule my own pain and problems are. On a more selfish level, I simply feel better when I am able to help someone else move farther along in their spiritual, professional, or personal life.
Photo: courtesy of the artist
The woman's sadly handsome neighbor
sits alone on his porch, drinking a glass
of Beefeater gin. He calls to her
to come over for a drink. His stout, tired wife
and three sweet-faced children are out of town.
The woman sits on his stoop as the sweaty sun descends,
and feels for the first time, how alone she is.
What's it like, she asks, to wake up and know
that someone won't go? He insists that it's golden
handcuffs. He admits that he watches her
long skirts catch around her sandaled ankles,
as she lugs a suitcase down her front steps, late
for a red-eye while he makes breakfast
for the kids. He admits being envious of how she comes
and goes. He leads her inside, silences
her half-protest of but your wife and do you still love her?
The smell of lilacs, the faint thump of rap
pulsing through someone's parked car window,
the steady bang of a fireworks, all of it, set loose
into the world, then gone. When she slips
through his back door at dawn, she realizes, sadly,
how American their actions were: pledging
allegiance to pleasure, not consequence.
Now she sits at her kitchen table and tries
not to stare at the carpet-imprint of her six-year
lover's suitcase. She wonders if now that she's free
to do what she pleases, she'll turn loose
those who love her, while mooring herself
to those who never can. That night, she looks to the sky,
filled with white stars encrusted against blue,
like the flag she lives beneath, in a body
brimming with desire and emptiness, and she sees
that she can't escape. So she promises
that tomorrow, she'll stay inside of herself,
in her house, and learn what it means to be alone.
One came tearing through the islands,
another went hurdling through the coasts.
The Caribbean's drowned so now it's filled with ghosts.
The Caribbean, it's drowning; it's an island full of ghosts.
The radio show host said those winds were just a lie.
Limbaugh, he laughed, and said she was a lie.
Then he hopped a private jet, because rich folks, they don't die.
I said he hopped a jet out of Florida, because rich folks never die.
Now poor folks are hungry and they can't get food that's canned.
Folks are hungry and they can't get food that's canned.
And our president treats them like they're from a distant land.
Yes: he turns a blind eye, because baby, they're from a distant land.
The islands off our shores, they're drowned and half-wrecked.
Those islands off shore are drowned; Barbuda's a wreck.
Lives erased like initials in sand. Flooded like a ship's deck.
Life: washed away like initials; flooded like a ship's deck.
My little sister was on an island when the waters came.
My sister, she was in Puerto Rico, when the waters came
She jumped in her car and drove in the drizzling rain.
Thank god, she drove, while it was just drizzling rain.
My little sister, she reached San Juan right before the hurricane.
She was lucky; she got to the city before the hurricane.
The hurricane blew through, took lives, and it had my name.
The hurricane that blew through: it took lives it and had my name.
Now trouble keeps on, and folks can barely stand.
As trouble keeps on, folks, we still can't stand.
Our president, he sits there like we've got eternal hourglass sand.
I said, President: your time's up. Your hourglass is out of sand.
They came sweeping through the islands.
They came hurtling up our coasts.
Half the Caribbean's drowned; the islands full of ghosts.
Lord, the Caribbean's flooded. The islands are filling with ghosts.