Ward Stories
(Column: Ward Stories)
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One of the most exciting aspects of the column for this issue is the fact that I
personally witnessed both poets auditioning these poems at Sufi Books in
Manhattan for the first-ever Sacred Slam poetry event for mental health. That
and the fact that there seems to be a "party" theme going on here. What is also
amazing is the fact that both Paul and Daniel have put such a positive spin on
what could very well be negative aspects of their lives.

As for Daniel, yes, this marks his first appearance in the poetry column and I
can attest to the fact that he is a very talented and creative poet. Even if I did
have to wrestle this poem from his hands before he would let me print it.

By Paul Chipkin

The other homeless on the street
would call me "Loco,"
but I never did see
where they got it from!

I just understood myself to be,
"the best show in town."

Sometimes, walking down a strange block,
I'd see folks, like me,
barely anchored to the sidewalk.
BINGO! An instant party!

We'd be begging for coins -
I'd do it the funny, honest way,
"We're trying to raise money for booze!"
Of course I never got a penny.
But the true hustlers enjoyed the show
And when the flask of Thunderbird
was in our hands,
they were happy to give me my rightful share.
They knew that this guy who "looked like a cop"
was "the life of the party."

I hardly ever frequented shelters,
preferring to spend my nights
in the lobbies of city hospitals
and occasionally in a park.
I never did get much sleep
in any of those places,
being, the truth be told, a middle-class fellow
who can only sleep
At home, in a comfortable bed,
With the lights out.

Still, I felt, that if only I could learn
to live on absolutely nothing,
then I would have mastered the art
of being truly free!

If such a dream is possible,
it never did happen that way for me.
Today, I live instead
in a wonderful Upper West Side apartment
with black leather furniture,
beautiful art on the walls
and a terrace.
Go figure!

And I sleep soundly at home,
in a comfortable bed,
With the lights out.

We Are The Wildflowers
By Paul Chipkin

We are the mentally ill.
G-d's wildflowers.
As seed, we were carried by the wind
To land in strange soil.

However difficult, we took root,
Grew different yet beautiful
And ultimately found our place
in G-d's scheme.

We are the wildflowers.
Were we ever intended, like wild horses
To be broken, then tamed?
To end up standing behind some counter
On some ward, counting out someone's
Puny allotment of cigarettes?

We are G-d's wildflowers.
We see things others don't see.
We hear things others don't hear.
We learn things others don't learn.

We are G-d's beautiful wildflowers.
We come to believe after awhile,
That by making us such,
By keeping us wild and free
He has given us His most special blessings.

Life's Parties
By Daniel Frey

Either you know people or you don't
When you don't...
A magical wilderness of talking animals
Will you meet the playful panda bear whose life is full and rich?
Or the snake with seductive power?
The lion roars and seems to talk to everyone at once
The dogs hangout together and decide whether this thing is
even worth their time
For many, a party ain't a party without some prey
I like the predators-they've got motivation
Perhaps I am one too
For I've tried the vegan diet and it wasn't for me
Now the parties where you do know people
People you haven't seen for a while
The connections that were made
The separations in time and space mean nothing when you see
them again
You feel more human here
When you know a little bit more about it
You can reconnect rather than connect for the first time
I try to be me wherever I go
Me is funny
Me is light
Me is open-minded
Me is scared, but brave
Me been through hell, limbo and back
Me is excited about life
Me is growing into something unforeseen
Me can't wait to embrace the mystery
Once and for all
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