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Terry Nippard

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Kitchener, ON, CA

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For the Light!

by

Terry Nippard

My face is eternally creased and numbed peering into the whipping rain
The waves jeer and taunt and thrash the bow with violent jolts of pain
My craft heaves up and over the swell of hopeless, endless sea
My mind is plagued with thoughts that this is finally the end of me
Millions of miles into the distance I glimpse a tiny light
It flickers and fades and disappears as my heart is gripped with fright
Iíve heard the tales that others tell of those who lost their way
Alone and insignificant with debts theyíll finally pay

Events and people who fill my past filter unbidden through my mind
I expect past sins to claim me now and Iím slowly becoming resigned
Iím going down, the loneliness is hell with no one else around
This nightís the night my thoughtless past will keep me water bound
But wait! Whatís that I see? The light is brighter now!
But alas, it fades away again as the waves destroy the bow
My mind returns to memory of those Iíd hurt and caused much pain
It seems inevitable now that Iíll never see love again

My face is bleeding as hail and rain gleefully torture me even more
Oh how I wish Iíd been more kind to those whoíve gone before
My boots are filled with water and my feet too cold to care
I bend even more into the wind as it whips and grabs my hair
With blood and salt Iím beaten and lashed, I can taste it in my mouth
My boat protests with creaks and groans as it is endlessly tossed about
I think I can no longer stand and I yearn, oh, to just lay down
My fingers are numbed and soaked and red as I too am thrown around

The oars are heavier than theyíve ever been, too heavy for me now
I scream complaining to the storm to let me rest, to quit, but how?
I know too well what quitting means, it rushes you to the end
I dream of sleep and comfortable things but can I afford to bend?

Exhaustion and unending pain is all that I can see
Each time I lift the oar again Iím driven to one knee
The cold and wet though harsh and cruel is still little compared to guilt
And the anguish I feel when the blade of regret seems piercing to the hilt

My movements are slow and mechanical as I now realize I am lost
Voices inside my head mockingly remind me that itís time to pay the cost
I can hear my teeth as they grind with effort and I desperately want to quit
I hear the cries of a tortured soul as the bow takes a splintering hit
All is dark, cold and wet as I float upon the sea
Knowing now the screams I heard had only come from me
I swallow water as I slowly sink beneath the angry sea
The darkness and the sudden silence is welcoming to me

But wait! I cannot quit no matter how hard it seems
And suddenly my head is split as a rock lurked hidden and unseen
I slowly awaken and a delicious warmth is coming from a fire
An old man sitting next to me helps me sit a little higher
"Where am I sir?" I asked the man and my throat is dry and tight
"Well son", he said in a soothing voice, "You made it to the light."
"I saw you in the distance, being battered left and right
But nothing I could do to help except to keep the light."

The old man must have thought me mad as I struggled with the news
I couldnít believe Iíd won the fight Iíd been resigned to lose
And asked him how on earth it was that I had made it through
He looked at me as he would a child and saw how little I knew

He scratched his stubbly chin and sucked in deeply on his pipe
He stared awhile at the burning wood and gave his lips a wipe
I said, "I was sure Iíd never make it, was that a rock I hit?"
He met my eyes and softly said, "My son, you didnít quit."


Daily Deceits (The First Glimpse)

by

Terry Nippard



He kicks a worn sneaker at a piece of derelict newspaper
at the last instant carried out of reach by a lazy breeze
He briefly reflects on the familiarity of always missing.
He didnít really expect to connect

Bent low in the non-existent gale-force winds
Hands burrowed deep in otherwise desolate pockets
He appears straining to move ahead at all.
He feels hurried and quick.

Passersby nervously note his lips mouthing words
as he carries on his ceaseless conversation with those inside
He knows them as friends.
They grew from enemies.

More rarely now does he think of what once was
The life he led before hopelessness won
The wife lover, son and daughter
A life of security and order.

Conscious memory recalls responsibility and home
Happiness and laughter and family get-togethers and holidays
And his steady decline into secrets and selfish indulgences
And he squirms as if escaping a bothersome gnat

He winces inwardly as images arrive unbidden and truth threatens
He sees the casinos, bars, alcohol, pills, stolen thrills in the darkness
And can smell the dangerous wantonness of freedom from daily duty and expectations
With borrowing here, not paying there and stealing here. The pain is obscene in its weighty persistence. His frown thickens his heavy brow.

Images continue of steady decline into abysmal deceit, lies and avoidances
Faces of those not able to understand, confused, hurt, disbelieving, pain, hair matted with tears of despair. Hospitals, psych wards, counsellors. Alone finally.
His fists dig deep as he hunches against the onslaught of guilt and remorse.
But the self-loathing gains its usual foothold.

He turns left, thinking to hurry but in fact stumbling helplessly now
Seeks his cardboard and carpet end, wet from earlier rains, near panic,
falls into a heap pulling a layer of shielding corrugated cardboard stiffly over him

As he lays waiting for the numbing warmth of the drug
He prepares for the nightly haunting of ghosts, children, crying loved ones of another life
And he hides his ears and eyes alternating cover with knuckled fists digging into flesh, waiting with knees tightly against his chest his chin grinding into bone.

The drug gradually arrives as a friend long anticipated slowly entering
Comforting, reassuring, coddling and loving
He knows now that itís really okay, he had merely forgotten how good things actually were

As his body relaxes and the torture eases
A glow of gratitude fills his dying spirit
And a distant thought that tomorrow will be todayís horror repeated
Is washed over, obscured by desperately welcomed numbness substituting his peace.
As it has been for a long, long time.