Posts to Prevent Suicide

Tomorrow (September 10, 2013) is World Suicide Prevention Day.  Rather than simply support the greeting card industry, I encourage you to read these deeply personal posts from suicide survivors and, as you are led, leave encouraging, life-affirming comments.

To read more, click on the title –

Posts to Prevent Suicide: Mental Health Monday

For more information about suicide prevention, see “Suicide Prevention (SUPRE)” at the World Health Organization site.

Charatee Buzz - WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY - September 10, 2013 - Charity Gift Box™

Who Do I Have To Sleep With To Get Freshly Pressed?: 5 Press-Worthy Posts

Angry_man by Gallivanting Gai

Know this – I am a moralist.  Some describe me as a neo-Puritan (to my face – God only knows what they call me behind my back).

But I am also a pragmatist.  I like to understand how things work so I can get what I want.  I don’t like beating around the bush.  Some say life is a journey, not a destination.  Well, I’m not big on journeys.  Give me a Star Trek teleporter and I’m good to go.

I started this blog – originally called Will Write For Food (and maybe dental) in December of last year.  For fours months, I’ve been slaving daily over this laptop (sitting in my electric recliner, listening to John Prine radio on Spotify).  I’ve been cranking out stories and poems,  book reviews and cultural essays, engaging in writing exercises and linking to intriguing sites.  Sure, I’ve won my share of awards – the Inspiring Blogger, the ABC award, the Liebster (just to name a few).  I’ve received some helpful and favorable comments and been “liked” a great deal.

But….

Not once have I been Freshly Pressed.

So, I ask you – what does a guy have to do?

I mean, just consider these 5 particular posts (quoted below) –

On Becoming a Gay Brit

Why, just the idea of going to the local pub for a pint to cheer on a group of footballers who are really playing soccer and screaming “Bloody, Bloody, Bloody!” (without it really seeming like profanity) would be a thrilling way to spend an afternoon.

“Tantalizing Titles for Top-Selling Books”

Jonathon Livingston Seagull Contracts the Avian Flu

In his pursuit of perfection, Jonathon learns that even adorable fictitious seagulls are only human.  While living in a commune with a gaggle of positive-thinking bird lovers, Jonathon contracts the flu from a flock of chickens.  Within weeks, the community is decimated.  The chickens survive long enough to be made into McNuggets.

Cold War Carl and Democrat Don Diagnose the World’s Problems (Episode One: Mental Illness)

Carl:  Well, I’m just an ignorant Kentuckian with a 6th grade education, but if you ask me, the world has gotten too complicated.  What with all the technology.  People going here and going there.  All stressed out.  I think the Amish have the right idea.

Don:  I don’t know about that.  But it is true that with technology the way it is, the world has become a smaller place.  They’ve got videos set up everywhere.   Why, I’m sure they’re filming us here right now.

Carl:  You bet they are.  It’s the Russians.

Don:  It isn’t the Russians.  It’s the Republicans.

Tuna Fish Friday (a prompted poem)

Are you sure today isn’t Friday?”

We had meatloaf yesterday.

We have meatloaf on Thursdays.

And we had meatloaf yesterday

And Bingo.

We always play Bingo on Friday.

And we just played Bingo.

Are you sure today isn’t Friday?

I’m sure this is Friday.

I’m as sure as I’m sitting here.

I’m as sure as day is day.

And night is night.

Today is definitely Friday.

But this sure as hell isn’t tuna fish.

“My Top 10 Anti-Resolutions for 2013”

9.  I will not go to the Super Bowl, sit behind the goal post and wave a placard with ”Habbakuk 2:16b” on it.   { ”Now it is your turn! Drink and let your nakedness be exposed…”}.

8.  I will not personally disprove the Big Bang theory.

6.  I will not petition the Vatican to make folk singer John Prine a saint.  He has been divorced and remarried (at least once).  He is not Roman Catholic.  And neither am I.

3.  I will not comment on a blog post written by a woman grieving the sudden death of her husband by correcting her grammar. {“i (I)  m (am) so sad(.) he (He) wus (was)my life.}”   I will also not ask her out on a date.

So, who do I have to sleep with to be Freshly Pressed?  Those of you who have been there, how about you?

(image above “Angry man” from Gallivanting Gai)

“Spring and Fall” (an excerpt from my upcoming story “Liberty”)

Chapel by Warren T

 

At 7:30 p.m., David made his way to the chapel.  He noticed Joy and Jonathon sitting outside with a white bearded man smoking a cigarette.

“Hey David, glad you made it,” said Joy.  “David, this is Dr. Cobb.  He’s the campus chaplain.”

Dr. Cobb extended his hand.  His eyes sparkled, “Please, David, call me Walt.”

“Am I early?” asked David.

“No,” said Joy, “it may just be us.  I tried to spread the word, but I’m not sure there is much interesting.”

“That’s okay,” said the chaplain, “we’ll have quality, not quantity.”

“Well, I don’t really have a plan.  I thought we would just meet for fellowship and support.  I did want to share this poem I found today when I was browsing at the library.  It’s by Gerard Manley Hopkins and it’s called, “Spring and Fall”.

To a young child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

“Wow!” said James, “that’s amazing.”

“Very nice,” said the chaplain.

“Yeah, I like it,” added David.

“It made me feel sad, in a way,” said Joy. “It made me wonder how it’s possible to enter the kingdom like a child (as Jesus said) in a world full of sorrow.”

David looked down.  The chaplain turned to him.

“What do you think, David?”

“Would you read those last two lines again?” asked David.

Joy found the place,

It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

“So is that like the Original Sin they tell us about in church?” asked David.

“It could be,” said the chaplain.  “Hopkins wrote in the late 19th century.  He was a Roman Catholic convert.  I don’t know his exact theology at the time he wrote this poem, but it is likely he shared the prevalent view of Original Sin.”

Jonathon turned to the chaplain, “What do you think?”

“I’d be more interested in hearing what you think.”

“Well, it hardly seems fair.  I mean, let’s say we take the Genesis story of Creation.  God made a man and a woman, put them in a garden to care for it – with just the warning to not eat fruit from one tree.  Knowing human nature, God knew what would happen next.  They go right for the forbidden fruit.  Then, as punishment, God not only exiles them from the garden, but punishes their descendants for generations to come with the condition of sin and the prospect of eternal damnation.  I mean, that sounds awfully harsh.  Does the punishment really fit the crime?”

Joy bowed her head.

“It doesn’t sound fair, does it?” said the chaplain, lighting another cigarette.

“Another thing I don’t understand,” added David, “is this whole divine election.  My father believes God chooses who gets saved and who doesn’t.  How could God send anyone to eternal damnation?”

“It seems barbaric to me,” said the chaplain.

“But aren’t you a Presbyterian minister?” asked Jonathon.

“It’s true, I was ordained in the Presbyterian church.”

“Don’t you have to support certain beliefs?”

“Not really.  There’s a phrase in our Book of Order (which is like a rule book) that says, ‘The Holy Spirit is Lord of the Conscience.”  He took a long drag on the cigarette.

The chaplain turned to Joy.  “Joy, you haven’t said much.”

“I was still thinking about the little girl in this poem.  I’m not much for theological discussions.”

 

(image “Chapel” from Warren T, some rights reserved)

My Top 10 Anti-Resolutions for 2013

10.  I will not eat the food left over in my refrigerator from our Thanksgiving meal.

Time to clean out the work fridge.

(from akeg, some rights reserved)

9.  I will not go to the Super Bowl, sit behind the goal post and wave a placard with “Habbakuk 2:16b” on it.

 { “Now it is your turn! Drink and let your nakedness be exposed…”}

8.  I will not personally disprove the Big Bang theory.

church sign

(from mikecogh, some rights reserved)

7.  I will not hide shoes behind books in the Goodwill store so I can get them for half-price on the first Saturday of the month.

goodwill sign

(from revger, some rights reserved)

6.  I will not petition the Vatican to make folk singer John Prine a saint.  He has been divorced and remarried (at least once).  He is not Roman Catholic.  And neither am I.

john prine

(from wfuv, some rights reserved)

5.  I will not react so enthusiastically to my discovery of what “meggins” are that I go out and buy some.  (see Matt Robb’s post)

tight pants

(from Tricia Wang 王圣捷, some rights reserved)

4.  I will not enter any writing contest where the entry fee exceeds the top prize.

writing contest

(from thepocnews, some rights reserved)

3.  I will not comment on a blog post written by a woman grieving the sudden death of her husband by correcting her grammar.  (Or, asking her out on a date.)

i (I)  m (am) so sad(.) he (He) wus (was)my life.

2.  I will not use parentheses excessively…

(unless I absolutely must whisper something in the reader’s ear.)

1.  I will not pursue a Marketing Internship for the Hoosier Lottery (though I may submit the slogan “Be a Real Loser – Play the Lottery” for free).

lottery

(from chicagogeek, some rights reserved)

 

(Inspired by a writing prompt from Today’s Authors)

Christmas in Prison – John Prine

John Prine at Bonnaroo 2010

Christmas In Prison
©John Prine 

(lyrics found at the Prine Shrine)

It was Christmas in prison
and the food was real good
we had turkey and pistols
carved out of wood
and I dream of her always
even when I don’t dream
her name’s on my tongue
and her blood’s in my stream.

Chorus:
Wait awhile eternity
old mother nature’s got nothing on me
come to me
run to me
come to me, now
we’re rolling
my sweetheart
we’re flowing
by God!

She reminds me of a chess game
with someone I admire
or a picnic in the rain
after a prairie fire
her heart is as big
as this whole goddamn jail
and she’s sweeter than saccharine
at a drug store sale.

Chorus:

The search light in the big yard
swings round with the gun
and spotlights the snowflakes
like the dust in the sun
it’s Christmas in prison
there’ll be music tonight
I’ll probably get homesick
I love you. Goodnight.

Chorus:

 

I have been a John Prine fan since I first saw a PBS documentary on him over Christmas break in 1982.  The guy is amazing and he’s still going (relatively) strong in his 70s.  I was going to post a Youtube video of him performing this song at a concert in 2011, but I wasn’t sure of the copyright laws.  If you want to check it out (for entertainment purposes only), click here.  If you haven’t heard it, check it out before you read on.  Art should always be appreciated first before it is analyzed.

The song title and opening line sets the stage for a melancholy mood.  The closest I’ve ever been to being in prison at Christmas was when I was separated from my family, staying with an older couple while I went through some treatment.  There were no bars, no guards (but the food was real good there too).  Oh, and there was also the time I was in the psych unit over Christmas.  I was confined there (and the food wasn’t even that good).

Prine’s absurdist humor comes through almost immediately (turkey and pistols carved out of wood).  On the live video clip, someone laughs (probably hearing it for the first time) and you almost miss the next lines (a danger you face when going to a Prine concert).

Prine abruptly shifts from absurdist humor to tremendous longing, as the prisoner dreams of his lover (even when I don’t dream) and finds himself bodily attached to her, though physically far separated.  This lover’s paradox appears as well in another of Prine’s songs “Donald and Lydia” (find lyrics here).

The chorus then shifts the focus slightly to a more spiritual realm.  The inmate is hoping to outlive his sentence, that love (in the form of his lover) would come back to him.  Prine’s doesn’t hesitate to introduce God into his songs, but his theology is rather elusive.  He seems to prefer common phrases “by God” that could suggest a simple expression, but it also opens the door to a strong connection to the divine.

In the second verse, the inmate poetically describes his lover as someone who is intelligent and life-giving, with a love that can not be confined.  Lest he turn his prisoner into Wordsworth, however, Prine then has his narrator compare his lover’s sweetness to “saccharine at a drugstore sale“.  You can’t get much sweeter than that in prison.

The final verse brings the dreaming inmate back to the reality of his imprisonment and separation from his lover.  The only light is coming from the searchlight swinging round with the gun.  Snowflakes, which remind many of the joys of the season are only spotlighted “like the dust in the sun”  It’s hard to know where the music will come from (maybe in the reverie of the narrator).  He concludes with a woefully understated summary – “I’ll probably get homesick.  I love you.  Good night.”

In yesterday’s post I reflected some on my own loss this season as I face the death of my marriage.  Even with that, I can’t begin to imagine the grief and longing of those whose loved ones have died, children who are permanently separated from their parents, or people in prison or war-torn countries desperately wishing they were somewhere else.  My hope is, if any of you should happen to stumble onto this, you would find hope in your seemingly hopeless situation.

We are rolling.  We are flowing.  By God.

(photo of John Prine from wfuv – some rights reserved)