Invictus…or I Decide My Response To The Darkness

IMG_0146I watched the movie, Invictus, last night…for the second time. No, I’m not going to review the movie, nor am I here to wax political about Nelson Mandela.  The poem, and the movie, resonated with me on deeper levels, more personal levels, for reasons of my own which are far removed from the movie.

Here is the poem:


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

~ William Ernest Henley

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With Gratitude I Hear My Neighbors Fight

I wrote this poem as part of a writing assignment the same summer I separated from my ex.  Summer 2007.  The assignment was to take the first line of someone’s poem and create your own poem from it.  I, for the life of me, do not remember who the author is to credit this beginning to…but, I’ll figure it out and post it soon.  In any event, I certainly don’t claim the title or the first line as my own original work and I am greatly indebted to the original author for their inspiration.  I’ll do my homework and post the information soon.

With Gratitude I Hear My Neighbors Fight


With gratitude, I hear my neighbors fight

Two campsites over

I didn’t know what it was at first

The music of muffled comments

floating through the air

gradually growing in intensity but not too loud

Short staccato vibrations in the otherwise

still summer night.

There syncopated beats

Sneaking in through the window of the travel trailer

I borrowed from friends


Looking out, my eyes see the silent, lifeless shapes

of an RV park asleep

A place for happy families vacationing from their real lives

A make believe journey they can escape

by simply packing up

and going home.

They can choose to stay or leave.


But not me…for now,

for me this is not vacation

This is real.

Late at night,

in the deep, dark, noisy night

Semis rushing by, air brakes blasting

Their noise chases sleep when it tries to land nearby

Disturbing the silence

Not a hundred feet from my flimsy door.

This is not a vacation, it is my real life.


For now it is my escape

From a living nightmare

A nightmare I thought would never end

It is a refuge from hell

A halfway house for my kids and I as we flee Hades

This this is where we live…for now

But this is not our home.


With gratitude, I hear my neighbors fight

Two campsites over

the music of muffled comments

Sneaking in through the window of the travel trailer

I borrowed from friends


And for now, I know we are safe.

And I hope we will soon be home.

How Very Good My Life Is

So, in the past few posts I’ve bemoaned my dire straights,

Griped about my misadventures and frustrations.

But Tuesday of this week

or maybe it was Monday

I was sitting there

at my reading group table

surveying the activity in my classroom.

At one table: students reading

and talking to an adult about their perceptions.

In tables around the room…

students, reading independently, books

of their own choosing.

Reading aloud…

because they still struggle with reading…

But they are reading.

And it is noisy.

Then…at my table… students

repeating and reading

words, sentences

and stories

most of them dull

to me

but difficult for them

and suddenly I realized

how very good my life is.

I am not homeless or hungry.

I own my own home and don’t have to worry

about where I will sleep tonight

or what I will eat.

My own children have a home and a loving mom

and all of us can read.

It is not a struggle.

Except to find the time.

And I realized that I have the rare good fortune

of being employed

at a job

that I truly love

and which matters…

maybe not to most people in our country…

maybe not to the legislators in my state…

but it certainly matters to the ones I teach

and they show me daily

by laughing with me

by writing me love notes on the backs of spelling papers

by waving to me on the way to school in the morning

by telling me “Miz B, You Rock”

by racing me in book reading,

by doing their best.

They want to please me,

but I want them to have good lives.

Lives that they choose, not that

they are relegated to.

I am deeply grateful…

How very good my life is.