Writes With Pencils

fiction, memoir, essays and poetry

Tag: Suicide

In Remembrance of the 1,129

State Capital

Again, the artist’s graveyard fills the lawn
headstones in colors of
blood, sorrow, fear, and tears.
Eighteen more than the year before.
Eighteen more lives lost to despair.
Eighteen more than the year you died
from anxiety and shame.

Last year I walked alone among the rows
headstones in colors of
drowning, hanging, drugs, and guns.
All empty earth and unnamed,
a bouquet of words, vibrant and weeping,
I laid a poem at your grave
at the edge of a thousand more.

It seems hopeless, this mournful swelling of
headstones in colors of
husbands, wives, children, and friends.
Eighteen more than the year before.
Eighteen more lives lost to despair.
Eighteen more than the year you died
—will it ever end?


*1129 is the number of people who died by suicide in the State of Washington in 2015.  The rows of grave markers were installed on the lawn of the State Capital by Forefront to raise awareness of suicide and to advocate for suicide prevention and legislation with that aim.

The Evolution of Stardust


Like a pebble in a pond
first ripples
and then nothing
was how you saw your place
in the universe
which in a purely rational
scientific sense
is true, I’m sure
in this unending vastness
this infinite darkness
that continues beyond
the ability of the mind to imagine
in which tremendous burning masses of light
fail to illuminate and warm
the spaces in between—
a single human life is insignificant.

But within this unending vastness
there are swirling galaxies of wonder
full of stars whose radiance
holds planets from spinning into isolation
and on one of these planets
you were born
of stardust and love and the continuity of existence.

You became for me
the sun around which
this earthly woman found her orbit,
the sun whose rays
prompted the blossoming of this yearning bud
to an open-heartedness
finally able to receive,
not simply to love, but to feel loved
not simply to see, but be feel seen
not simply to listen, but to feel heard
not simply to accept, but to feel accepted.

And even as it has been 365 days, one earthly year,
since the sun that was you
imploded in an instant
this openness of heart cannot be closed
this love unfelt
this learning unlearned,
you have left far more than ripples in a pond
all of which will continue for eternity.

Where there was the reassurance of gravity
the balance to my body’s inertia,
there are now only questions
and loss and boundless space,
it would seem there was nothing
to hold my spinning form
from flying to the edge of the universe.

But instead of careening to the edge of nothingness
I am saved by science
whose law of conservation of energy
has transformed your breathing form
of beating heart and electrical impulse
into the bits of stardust and pure love
as a living embrace
which now orbit my earthly form
being reborn a sun
on this unending continuity of existence
as it simultaneously races onward
and is frozen in the moment of our final kiss.

Perspective After Suicide


I awake with relief
to a cool morning, take pleasure in
watering the garden and pulling weeds
from the rockery
before the early sun has risen
to its full strength
and feel grateful that the cat
will once again eat from my hand
after a day of worrying listlessness,
she too having found relief
in the cooler night,
recovered from unseasonable weather.

I feel the fullness of my life
and tell myself,
as if counseling another
to remember this
remember this, girl,
remember this moment the next time
you seek simple respite from the heat
only to feel like sinking into the lake
and being done with it all.

Remember this
when you can’t feel the joyous breath
of the water
from the swell of wakes
of passing boats.

Remember this
when the morning is clear
but the solidity of the mountains
offers you no comfort
as they stand watch.

Remember this
when all you want is for the pain
of your loss of him to end
as tears turn to steam in your goggles
blurring everything
in a self-contained eco system
of grief turned despair.

Remember this
when the only thing that draws you
back to the beach,
rather than below the surface
to join the milfoil and turtles,
is a sense of responsibility
to everyone but yourself
and your not wanting to cause
this singular suffering
to anyone else.

May 18th



Today is the anniversary
of two traumatic events,
one of a grand, cosmic scale
and the other intimate and personal.

35 years ago today,
Mount St. Helens
erupted violently, spewing ash
that blew through several states
swamped rivers,
and destroyed enough trees
to build 300,000 homes.
I still remember the feel of the air
the grey dust everywhere
and the feeling that I
could no longer trust
the earth to be still.
I was 13.

10 months ago today,
William McClure
fired a single bullet into his head
that instantly ended his life
sent ripples
that shocked and grieved many
and destroyed our loving home.
I still remember the officer’s voice
the stunned friends’ faces
and the feeling that I
could no longer trust
that love was real.
I was 47

In these 35 years
I’ve felt the firm earth,
I’ve felt it shake,
and I’ve learned that
it is the earth’s doing
not mine,
and I walk without worry.

In these 10 months
I’ve felt the warmth of love,
I’ve felt its loss,
and I’ve learned that
it is love’s doing
not mine,
and someday my heart
will open once again.


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