Ward Stories
(Column: Ward Stories)
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Happy 2002, Dear Readers, may it be a better year for all!
As we look to the future, we also solemnly remember the
past-I have therefore included a poem which honors our
personal hero, Ken Steele, and one that focuses on the recent
tragedy that affected the world. Barbara J. Gewirtz first received
recognition for her poetry in elementary school when her poem
on the assassination of Robert Kennedy was read over the
loudspeaker. She says that she uses poetry and art "to deliberate
the toll of mental illness, naming it as a defendant in a societal
trial replete with stigma" (I appreciate the legal reference, Barbara!)
Rick Sostchen has been my brother all my life-a fact for which
I am eternally grateful!

9/11
by Rick Sostchen
The first plane hit high,
the second one lower
as if a sliver of shame perhaps
had finally entered the souls of the shameless

VOICES DEAREST
by Barbara J. Gewirtz
(dedicated to the life and work of Ken Steele)
Hark, hear this plea and heed the call.
This envoy from my own voice must make it clear
Your harrowing summons will no longer be hosted here.
For now, you're the prey,
Cornered, Targeted, Trapped, Sabotaged, Busted.
No more macabre threats sounded or shared.
Behold, I'm now on guard that I will be spared.
Before, resonating sharp with diamond clarity, now coal.
Undistilled fears no longer can seep through to my soul.
Voices, exit here,
Return to sender,
Undeliverable forever after.
Checkmate.

THE GULF OF LOSS
by Barbara J. Gewirtz
The gulf of loss
affirms my anxiety
agitates my anger
clouds my concentration
consumes my coping
defends my doubts
disrupts my dreams
diverts my desires
fuels my fears
governs my guilt
hosts my hallucinations
ignites my insecurity
jeopardizes my judgment
piques my panic
ravages my reality
revives my regrets
sacrifices my safety
sharpens my shame
summons my sorrow
the gulf of loss
engulfs me

CHEZ MOI
by Barbara J. Gewirtz
Unsorted, unlabeled, unfiled,
Unstacked,
Unopened, unanswered, unpaid,
Unwrapped,
Unorganized, unshelved,
Unread.
Unattended, unwatered
Unfed.
Unfresh, unmade, uninviting,
Unchanged.
Unsewn, unhung, untidy,
Unarranged.
Unwashed, undusted
Unswept.
Unprepared, unfinished,
Unkept.
Unassembled,
Unpainted,
Unframed
Unused, unrecycled, untossed,
Unclean.
Unshared, unsettled, unwell,
Unseen,
Unsafe,
Disorder, discord, distress,
Disgrace.

I AM
by Barbara J. Gewirtz
I am a pioneer
Hunting and gathering
Foraging for facts
Creating meaning out of pain
Finding that it's not always safe
To sip from even the clearest spring
Climbing rock ledges to unveil
the vast unknown
Rambling through unfamiliar terrain
But also revisiting tumultuous trails
where healing may take place
Navigating steep descents
and seemingly impassable
junctures
Detecting faintly familiar footsteps
Charting new waters at times
Relying on makeshift stones
to muddle through murky ponds
Facing sharp inclines or flat open
areas
Or deep thick forests for miles on
end
Continuing my venture
Unready to settle
Supported by those
Recognizing that
I am a pioneer

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