THE RECURRING NIGHTMARE (copyright Sara Russell 1997).

Deep in the night
shadows stand long
eclipse of all light
I am not strong
and sleep is a pit
lying in wait
send me an angel
before it's too late

Deep in the black
before letting go
no turning back
time turns so slow
and sleep is an ocean
where ghosts fall and rise
send me an angel
to dry these tired eyes.

Over the Styx
Hades awaits
sleep is a feather
blown by dark fates
sleep is a fall
into the unknown.
Send me an angel
I feel so alone.

Copyright Sara Russell August 1997

Through space
to a planet cobalt blue
to the swirling clouds
and plunging through
to a patchwork landscape
beige and green
down to a house
through a shuttered screen
to the lonely figure
on the bed
through the shuttered eyes
inside the head
to the nude pain
of the depressive mind
the hidden handicap
of humankind -
there the plummeting
will never end
the bleeding, screaming wound
will never mend.

Copyrght Sara Russell 1997

Like a cataracted eye
an oil film on the sea
clouds blot out the sky
steal the sun from me
the city has no heart
its people have no love
each day rips me apart
I have had enough

night hits like a spear
strikes through flesh and bone
like the stab of fear
a sense of being alone
the moon and stars collide
somewhere far away
in astral suicide
yet still comes the new day

yet still I breathe the air
like an automaton
walking here and there
walking blankly on
my mind was just a slate
for others to inscribe
the bar code of my fate
the peer mode of my tribe.

(Copyright Bob Ludden August 1996)
(Written two days after learning of his youngest son's suicide)

No platitudes for you, my son.
Your eyes were cameras, seeing through
Our makeup and our emperor's clothes,
Reflecting images too filled with warts and pretence
(and this too, makes you smile)--noting them,
And loving us....more strongly than we knew.

There was a thing you couldn't do,

And had our vision been so sharp as yours
We might have found a way
To help you love yourself---One blind spot
lurked as such spots will, and thus ignored
collected its profane reward,
and left us destitute.

To see our tears would bring some sympathy,

But not much patience (Yours were always secret,
And, I'm sure, more frequent than we knew.)
You'd want us to have done with them,
And get on with the matter of loving
And you'd be watching some place,
and pulling for us.

Oh, about those tears, Mark....

Why won't they stop?

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The following poem was written 6 months after my youngest son took his life. It refers to some of his final notes to us, particularly the "waning moments" and "joining heaven's citizenry" just before he stopped writing. The poem is also based upon John Donne's poem, "No Man is an Island", the diminishing of everyman by a death, and the tolling bells of finality.

A picture of the Conferring of Mark's Doctorate

(Copyright Bob Ludden March, 1997)

The son I had who chose his hour of death
engraving it with thoughts of life
and torment, love and tears, and hope...
(like festering sores the words flowed from his pen)
did yield to truth and madness in his eloquence.

His "waning moments" thus enabling
A theme of triumph all his own,
yes, sharing in desire, holistic crowns upon our heads
and we would wish it, too,
were not the empty years in store for us
a mission clear to seize the day as he did not...
and joining heaven's citizenry did make of him
Donne's island as divided loyalties
will always do.

By grace of God, eristic minds
may yet acquire those aureoles--
while we who languish lifebound
now confront encroaching seas
with decimated force,
our ears attuned to distant bells
of ceaseless change.

R. Dean Ludden is a semi-retired pipe organ technician, living in northern Illinois. He has, since his college graduation, taught public school music, worked in radio and television as an announcer and news anchor, and managed motion picture theatres. As an avocation, he has built a number of baroque keyboard instruments He is married, with three sons, two of them living. Ludden wrote poetry in his early life, and has in the past three years, taken it up once again, depending on email lists, and poetry readings for exposure to his work. He is a graduate of Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota, and has done graduate study at Columbia, in New York. Email Bob on: [email protected]

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