On a journey back to himself he discovered he’d gone from being a man who writes to being a Writer.
I don’t know what made me sit down almost two years ago and write a poem. I’d never written poetry before. I had only barely started writing anything at that point, my first article was only a month or so old. My ex-wife had just left the family home with my children and I was lost and alone and had absolutely no idea what to do with the rest of my life.
So there I was sitting alone at my computer staring blankly at the screen. I had so many questions, so many thoughts drifting back over my past. I could do naught but let them swirl endlessly through my mind, ceaselessly, tirelessly, never ever ending, round and round until I thought my chest would explode. I couldn’t do anything with them, couldn’t change anything, things just seemed so hopeless. All those thoughts were just ripping me to shreds and I didn’t know what to do about them.
So I typed. I didn’t even mean to write a poem, my fingers just typed because I wanted to get those words out of my head, I just wanted them gone. I wanted them to mean something, to make a difference. I knew from the couple of articles I had written that when I write there is message for someone in them, a lesson to be learnt. There is a piece of me that goes into what I write, a gift to someone who needs a hand. I don’t always know who it is for, sometimes I think it is for me, but I don’t always know. Yet I know some who read what I write can see to the heart of the message I put in.
I wondered what I would write about, I was trying so hard back then to see the good in the world, to see the beauty, and it was so damn elusive. I wondered if I could just take the little bits I could see, just the sunrise I saw that morning because I couldn’t sleep, and make people see what I could see. That maybe I could help people by showing that beauty and wonder still existed, shine a little light into their world.
Yet, I was in so much damn pain. I was grieving, grieving my marriage, grieving not seeing my kids so often anymore, grieving every damn thing that had ever happened to me. It would have been so easy to give in, to let the hatred, anger, and pain in and let it take over. I can’t do that though. Somewhere inside me there is a fighter, I never give up, no matter what I don’t give in. So I wondered if I could somehow show people how to fight. Fight for the most important things in their lives, themselves. Even though I didn’t even truly believe in myself yet I wanted to, and I would stand against nature herself before I would quit.
Yet I also felt so damn old sitting there. If all the bad things that happen to us are life lessons then I felt like I had learnt a hundred years of lessons. I don’t know when I started to become wiser to the ways of the world but I felt every lesson. They had taken their toll and not a single one of those bloody lessons had I learnt before I needed them, only ever after. Yet I knew I could pass them on.
So as I typed, every word swirling in my head, I knew I could put them down on paper, I could arrange and shape those words. The very feelings I struggled to control, they were the conduits, the way for me to let those words out and write them down. I have had friends say there is a vulnerability to my writing. Oh how little they know. It doesn’t matter what I write about when I open these conduits my heart and soul bleeds into what I write. It doesn’t matter if I am trying to write fiction or not, the emotions behind what I want to write always flow with the words. When I write and I am fully open I am never more naked and exposed.
I didn’t exactly know this when I wrote those last two stanzas but everything I have written has had a piece of me in it that I can see after writing. It isn’t necessarily something others may see although they may feel a part of it as they read. Every piece of writing has shown me something about my inner self. Something important, something I fundamentally needed to understand, something that I needed to write so I could grow and move forward with my life. As I write more and more I can see the man I am, the man I should be, the man I will be. It’s taken a thousand pictures each crafted with a thousand words but I am starting to know this man now. He’s beautiful.
So out of nowhere this poem was born. I think of it as my instruction manual these days. I am sure the shrinks would have a field day if they ever took the time to pull it apart. It took a while before I could write a poem better than this but this was the start for me. The day I became a writer, it wasn’t because I wanted to be, it wasn’t because I thought I could be, it was because I sat down and wrote. I sat down and wrote a poem to myself that I had to write if I wanted to know the real me. That was the day a writer was born.
A Man Is Worth A Thousand Pictures
A million words swirl in a man’s head
A thousand pictures ready to be painted
Ethereal they swirl, almost untouchable,
And yet each a double edged sword.
They can be crafted and shaped
Guided on to a canvas or paper
Messages for those who can see
Or art for those who can not.
Will a man paint a remembered crimson sunrise?
And seize the wonder he experienced
Displaying for all who wander by
“This amazed me, captivated me and held me breathless.”
Or will he paint a solitary sailor on dark stormy oceans?
Adrift and alone,
Fighting nature for his very existence
Fist held to the sky yelling “Is this all you’ve got.”
Does he paint a portrait of a frail greying man?
A man who has seen so much,
With such sadness and wisdom in his eyes
That say to the viewer “I learnt almost as many lessons as I made mistakes.”
Each and every word tumbling
Can cut into his soul
But they are double edged
They also cut into canvas
Every scratch left on canvas is now filled with a piece,
A piece of the man who was once cut by these words.
His every creation he cannot help but paint
His very existence displayed for the world to see.
He can paint what is not
Or things which have never existed
Except that in every painting
There is always himself lying naked and exposed.
His paintings are messages to himself
Regardless of whom he gives them to.
“See, here you be, this is who you are.”
“Be comforted that you know yourself just that little better.”
And when a thousand pictures have been painted
If this man had opened his heart and mind
He can join those pictures into a mosaic and say
“A thousand pictures paint me.”
*A minstrel was a medieval European bard who performed songs whose lyrics told stories of distant places or of existing or imaginary historical events. Although minstrels created their own tales, often they would memorize and embellish the works of others. The Modern Minstrel observes the world around him and shares it with us as lyrical story. This series was inspired by Luke Davis, whose eye for story and ear for lyrical prose are featured here.
Also by Luke Davis
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