Saturday, December 27, 2008

Datura Stramonium: To Dance with the Devil

Sun ablaze

August heat
Beads of sweat
Fleshly dew

Steady hike
Upon the trail
Through the pasture
Amid green meadows

Insects play
Crickets chirp
Butterflies dance
Innocent choreography

On purple flowers
Of feathery palms
Gracefully adorning
Poisonous pods

That incubate
Wicked seeds
In spiky armor
The Devil's weed

Once ingested
The netherworld
Displays its horrors
Ten-thousand fold

Fears take form
In ghastly fashion
Terror personified
Soul's violation

Gills to breathe
Housed with the mad
In aquatic sphere
Of cryptic lunacy

Open rape
Asylum incarceration
Flesh-eating roaches
Parasitic hallucinations

Upon return
To the light
Forever changed
Paranoia's blight

Harmless dance
Of butterflies
On nectar sweet
Of madness divine

september 8, 2oo7

In late August, 2007, my husband and I hiked some pasture fields in Virginia, directly off the Blue Ridge Parkway. I counted some 30 thistle plants with seed pods, which brought to mind datura.

Though the thistles that day weren't datura, the image was intriguing. This poem was born..

Betwixt the field thistles butterflies danced. I thought they probably do the same with Jimson.

Inside datura's spiky pods, rest devils' seeds. I thought, "How ironic....the beauty, grace, and freedom of the lepidoptera feasting on sweet nectar beneath which lurks such a powerful potion of darkness."

I danced with that potion when I was 15 years old; it was a 4-day sleepless nightmare of hellish hallucinations (an understatement). Sometime I may come back to this post and fill in some detail...and maybe not. Suffice it to say, verses 6 through 9 in the poem are a peek. Each was as real as life itself.

One of my hallucinations while intoxicated was of 100s of black cockroaches crawling over my body, a fanciful flesh feast. Not suprisingly, it took me over 20 years to rid myself of a dreaded, horrific fear of roaches.

I got a job at a science center as a presenter in the rain forest area. One of my presentations? Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Upon our first introduction, I took a deep breath and allowed them to discover my hand. Over time I became friends with the little fellows. After multiple encounters, the terror ceased. I'm still not fond of roaches, but neither am I terrified. ;-)

Hint: Don't dance with this devil; the price is too high. To learn more, just google jimson weed.


Links to two memoir pieces I wrote about my dance with jimson weed:
Part 1: A Green Hornet and Blackbirds
Part II: Witch Doctors and Roller Coasters


Saturday, December 20, 2008


resigned to fate
I sit on my rock
at the bottom
in this dry well

pit's mouth always in sight
light shines in
yet I am wearied
from climbing
and falling

fingernails caked with dirt
snide laughter
mocks my attempts
to escape this hole

if torrential rains pour
I'll drown down here
perhaps I could tread
hoping the waters
carry me up

december 17, 2oo8

I am challenged with depression and anxiety. Poetry and journaling help me to process through these emotions. Some may deem prose like the above as me "dwelling on the negative." I deem it as expressing pain, acknowledging it, and endeavoring to work through it in order to rise out of the thrall of despair. The final verse above, kind of makes me laugh. Is that weird? :-o :-)

At times, I have images that pop into my head. An ongoing image has been myself in a hole, similar to a well. At the top is a boot that will push me down again and again. Other times I climb out of that hole...into the sunlight of hope.

I have utilized something called "thought records" which is used in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). After I wrote the prose above, I wrote a thought record. My final thoughts were:

I do fall down and I've always gotten back up. Change can happen at any moment.

Though I seem to be running in circles at the moment, the reality is that I am taking action to deviate that course. Change can happen at any moment.

To life, circles, lines, shapes, and magic strokes upon the page....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Metacarpal Vestment


wrinkled with time
touched 1000 palms
crossed cultural boundaries

knowledge, innovation
compassion, connection
wiping tears, venting rage

furrows of hidden secrets
timeless folded imprints
weathered with age


august 22, 2oo7

Have you ever thought much about your hands? Have you ever gazed them over and wondered all the memories they hold?

I've always enjoyed hands. Some folks notice behinds; I notice hands.

Our hands speak everyday...without ever uttering a sound. May we use them to spread cheer, comfort, warmth, kindness, understanding, and empathy.

High five!!! :-D

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shattered Pieces

I found myself startled
and stunned
as I awoke to the reality
of what lie surrounding me.
Shattered pieces of what I had arrogantly fabricated,
I thought were authentic and inerrantly stated.
With passing time and heart-wrenching agony
I endeavored to grasp the sobering verity,
this shattered vase,
each fragment noteworthy.

I asked my soul,
Where do I start
to pick up the pieces?
The answer came,
One at a time.
Some trash; others, keep 'em.

Deliberately with focus, I timidly began
God please guide my soul and my trembling grip,
allow me with courage to honor each fragment.
Thank you for showing me all is not lost
that the next vase we sculpt is at a great cost,
that your fire will purify each pattern anew
a vessel wrought tenderly
restoring me, embracing you.

august, 2006

I awoke one morning with an image in my mind. I stood in a kitchen, bewildered. I looked around on the floor; it was covered with fragments of a shattered blue vase. The fragments were the residue of what had been my substance, my belief system, my identity.

I felt that everything I thought and believed to be true had shattered.

In reality, not everything had been shattered; yet the core of what I had allowed to become me, the foundation of my substance was fractured, obliterated into 1000's of fragments. How could I ever organize the scramble and make sense of the loss?

Thus this poem was born. I posted it on an online forum and someone pointed out that the shape of the poem looked like a vase. Ha! I hadn't noticed.

It is now 2008, a little over two years after the penning of this piece. I still feel shattered. Cleaning up a blasted foundation with its demolished edifice structure takes a lot of time. There are pains to be honored and treasures to be crowned.

Lately I've thought about the vase. Had my belief/identity structure been a pillow, it wouldn't have shattered with the fall. Vases are rigid; pillows are pliable. An analogy can only be taken so far. As humans, we need both vases and pillows.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Seagull Tattoo

someday I will soar the lofts
light as the butterfly
with strength of the eagle
upon the winds I shall rest


others shall peer
from their hidden crevices
some will join the flight
together we'll discover

silver linings in every cloud
mysteries hidden in each ice crystal
peace within the eye of the storm
treasures awaiting at rainbow's end

someday there will be harmony
won't there?

december 19, 2oo7

I am a dreamer. I hope that someday there will be harmony among the human species. Perhaps there is a place beyond death or a new heaven and earth to become. Perhaps there will be a sphere where peace prevails among our tribe.

I have a seagull tattooed on my back, at my right shoulder. I named her harmony over 3 decades ago. I had the dream then too. I hope I never quit dreaming.

How about you?

Sixth Dimension

To stay connected
My quill must dance
Upon the weathered parchment
Fingers embrace the pen

What is this magic
What is this pull
Into dimensions felt, not seen

To time eternal
Memories that tarry

Some past, some future
Mortal, immortal
Concrete, ambiguous

Embrace me
Never let me go
Curves, lines, circles
Magic strokes upon the page

january 20, 2oo8

Poetry is a therapeutic tool for me, allowing me to access and express a part of my soul that otherwise remains dormant. Sometimes when I am in process of composing a prose or poem, I become immersed within another time and space. It is as if time stands still and I feel a connection to myself that goes beyond everyday perception.

I thought that perhaps it is a 6th dimension. As my manner is, I then googled "sixth dimension." Sixth dimension has to do with community. I felt it applied to my inner thoughts, for I think that we do communicate via ways not yet verified in our Western scientific paradigm. As we are more in tune with ourselves, we will be more in tune with others....
  • Three Dimensional Space (Eg Proximity of people and groups of people to one another, resulting in interaction) (Consider also the physical shape of a tool used by a blacksmith)
  • 4 -- Time (Eg The birth, death and marriage dates that connect people to one another)
  • 5 -- Objects (Eg People and their tools, homes and beasts of burden)
  • 6 -- Societal Values (Prevalent attitudes in a community that evolve in response to a complex web of human interactions)

Saturday, November 15, 2008


pressure from above
unseen, only felt
reality distorted
no exit route

narcotics, cold steel
moon upon the waters
voices in the head
cocktail mix for death

"hopeless failure
despicable soul
worthless carbon
self-indulgent fool"

blueprint emerges
with isolation as
the nexus
ingredients complete

yet, one thought
bars the doorway
"fruit of my womb,
legacy worth life"

november 15, 2oo8

Suicidal ideation is defined as thoughts about suicide which may include a formulated plan. Unless one has been there, I don't know if one can comprehend the utter worthlessness and engulfing darkness that is experienced.

During an episode, one of the main helps (if not the main factor) is to reach out for help; isolation can be a killer. Yet, to make that phone call feels almost like an impossible task; it is like a paralysis. Then the question is who to call. If a sufferer feels s/he has no one to reach out to that will understand, call the suicide helpline. The people there know what to do; they understand; they are there to help.

Another help is bring to mind those who you love, for they are the ones left to suffer. For me, the thought of my children living with the reality that their mother committed suicide leaves a horrible imprint on my psyche. That reality, and it would be a reality, has been my catalyst to make the call for help.

Of course, anyone who suffers with mental health challenges needs to seek medical intervention with people trained in that area. There is help: various coping skills, medications, nutrition, etc.

To Life!

Sunday, November 2, 2008


The accuser once more tolls
A whipping to accrue
Abruptly interrupted
The guiltless child in view

You appear once again
So much larger than before
Your countenance now forward
Instead of toward the floor

"Are you gonna whip me now?"
You ask with candid face
My heart jumps to my throat,
"No, it only causes pain"

Uncomprehending stare,
Maybe now she understands!
I'm wearied from the beatings,
And the scars upon her hands

I inhale deep, catch my breath
Tears trickle down my cheek
You have no tears left to cry
For the freedom that you seek

Yes, you have been my scapegoat
And now it's time to cease
"Will you help me learn to trust
And with myself make peace?"


This poem could be entitled "Unveiling, Part II" instead of "Nanna." I may change it at some point. I named the child in tattered frock Nanna. Together we'll discover a part of me that died...

For the prelude, view Unveiling.


You stand, a far distance
tiny in the remote sphere
Small, unpretentious, homely
Barefoot child draped
in tattered frock

Alone, downcast
you dare not approach

All is quiet as I survey the scene

Can it be?
Are you the one,
the scapegoat?
What are the wages?

You quietly fade
never once looking up
Your countenance
forever branded
within me

I will not forget

october 31, 2oo8

I am an expert at self-blame. That's not a good thing, btw. In identifying this core belief that has been central to my life for decades, I had to identify my scapegoat. In searching my heart and psyche, at first I pictured a goat. But that didn't resonate. I looked up the word 'scapegoat' in a thesaurus and found the word 'cat's paw.' That didn't work either.

With this on my mind I went to bed for the evening. First thing upon waking the next morning, my mind was met with an image of a child. Could it be?

For the follow-up poem, view Nanna.

Monday, September 29, 2008

About this blog

technology evolved ~ parchment altered
humanity evolved ~ the cry of the soul remains
voice of poetry ~ language of the heart
anthology ~ a gathering of flowers
of which there is a multitude

In this modern information age, parchment has changed. Everyday billions of symbols and characters appear upon the cyber page. Yet, the cry of the human soul continues as it has for thousands of years: to be acknowledged, to be heard, to embrace life, to flee from life, to face death, to flee from death, with all the facets in between.

An anthology is a collection of poetry/prose. The roots of the word 'anthology' mean "a gathering of flowers."

Thus this blog is a 'gathering of flowers'...of which there is a multitude. Some of splendor and life; others of loss and death. Yet each is significant; each deserves honoring.

With many of the poems I relay some of the context at the time the poem was written. Some poems may be years, or even decades old. All poems/prose are authored by me unless otherwise stated. I sign some with my pen name, Judith Piper.

Many of my poems/prose express the loss, grief, longing, rage, searching, confusion and other emotions that surface as a result of living through challenges of life, some of them traumatic. Some poems express hopes and dreams. Writing poetry and journaling have been two of my main therapeutic helps.

Each individual has a journey; each journey is significant. There are no non-persons; there are no non-events. I hope humanity can someday learn to honor one another with the respect and love we each deserve.

To Life!

Thanks for visiting...


Is there ever a final draft? ~moi
Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance. ~Carl Sandburg