A Mile Past Despair
A lonely wanderer
retrieves the trampled newspapers from the street.
She gives free rein to her untethered thoughts
and conjures up meanings beyond the pages.
From these crumpled up pieces of trash,
she dares to create her secret world
In her faded shopping cart,
she scavenges grimy cans and bottles.
while she mumbles her magical prayers
and stares at numbers and signs.
She sojourns the streets cursing and blessing
depending on her encounters and moods.
At night, she crashes behind the rusted green dumpster till dawn.
Sometimes she gets captured and confined,
but she refuses the pills
that make her obese and withdrawn-
a mile past despair
and nobody cares
What can it be?
What can it be? Where can it be?
Who is this monster that still follows me?
Am I too trusting or am I a threat?
Is it some weakness or is it some test?
Maybe my feelings are too self-involved,
Or maybe I’m lazy or just getting old.
Can I escape from this prison of thought?
Can I break free from my backsliding God?
Perhaps all my questions are nothing but fear
That twists up my feelings
And makes me seem weird.
Perhaps in this moment, I can free myself
And find out some purpose
That helps me reach out.
But I know this monster
That comes every day,
So I will keep vigil and patiently wait.
I have nowhere to run and no place to hide.
I must face the creature before it’s too late.
(John Zurn has been faced with the challenges of bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder for his entire adult life. He gradually learned that: medication, exercise, meditation and creative writing were vital for his long term recovery. Despite this challenge, he still worked as a teacher and counselor for thirty-five years.)
The Beautiful Space-