Invictus, by William Ernest Henley

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.

BY WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY, 1875

One of two poems I turn to for inspiration, (the other is “If” by Rudyard Kipling)

Here’s a link to a powerful reading by Morgan Freeman from the movie “Invictus”, in which he plays Nelson Mandela.

 

The Blindside Parables – 2

Having easily trashed the straw and stick houses of the three pig brothers, he was feeling quite proud of himself. Sure, this last house was a bit more sturdy, but they didn’t call him the Big Bad Wolf for nothing. He only wished his dad could be here to see his son in action. But, alas, Papa Wolf had run up against that damn little kid, Peter and was now confined to a cage in town,  snarling at tourists.

Wolf did some stretches, a few jumping jacks to get his heart pumping, then drew in and exhaled several deep breaths. Ready, he turned to face the little brick house and smiled. This was going to be fun.

He roared, “alright pigs, come out now or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!”

The door of the house flew open and out marched Bernie, the smartest and most practical of the pig brothers. His two cowardly siblings could be seen with their noses pressed against the inside of the living room window.

“Where’s your mask!” demanded Bernie, “what kind of example are you setting for the community, huffing and puffing and blowing a contagious virus around in this time of pandemic crisis?”

Speechless, Wolf stared at the pig. Suddenly, he started to sneeze, triggered by Bernie’s particularly obnoxious cologne.

“A-a-choo!”

Bernie jumped back, “jeez, you’re too much!. Here, put this on and start acting like a responsible member of society.”

Handing a mask to Wolf, the pig turned and marched back into the house, slamming the door behind him.

Fidgeting with the mask, Wolf tried to get it on over his large ears and protruding snout. Finally, with the mask barely covering the end of his nose, leaving most of his gleaming white fangs exposed, he gave up. Obviously, the mask was designed for a little pig, not a big bad wolf.

His shoulders slumped. He was a failure, an apex predator without a job, just another gig worker lost among the masses of the structurally unemployed. He should have listened to his wife, who’d been telling him for weeks that bullying was out of fashion.

But he’d done everything right, worked hard, followed in his dad’s footsteps, listened to all the advice, practiced in front of a mirror the growls and looks that made a Big Bad Wolf really scary.

He sighed, yes, he’d done everything he was supposed to do, but he’d always had doubts.

Wolf turned and started the long walk home. Then, he stopped, remembering-

deep in his heart, he’d always wanted to be a ballet dancer.

Moral: Little pigs are nothing to sneeze at.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blindside Parables – 1, Inspiration

 

If, by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling, 1895

Source: A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)

When I’m down and feeling sorry for myself, “If” is one of the poems I return to for inspiration. Here are YouTube links to great readings of this poem, the first  by Holly Musgrove, the second by Sir Michael Caine-

“If” read by Holly Musgrove 

“If” read by Sir Michael Caine

Life is a gift and a responsibility. Let’s make the most of it!

Tio Stib
2019, 2020

The Blindside Parables – 1

With a mighty swipe of his sword, Sir Rodney decapitated the dragon. Then, raising high the monster’s head, its astonished eyes fixed open, he exulted-

“Yes! Now the fair Princess mildred is mine!?

At this point, the enraged, fiery tempered mother of the baby dragon, who’d only wanted to play with the silver coated stranger, char boiled the errant knight inside his suit of armor.

Moral: If you’re going to slay your dragons, start with the big one.

tio stib

 

You might also enjoy: Paddling a Submarine vs. Living An Authentic Life

and I smiled

holding the year’s last rose in her hand
she disappeared
whisked away on the first day of winter
gone forever on a cold December day

my head said it was for the best
said I could not give the care she needed
said I had to let her go

my heart said

NO!

I made tea
cleaned up
pretended I was strong
wondered why I could not hear her near me
why I felt so empty and alone

and I cried
cried hugging all the memories
cried as I walked with her
danced with her
cried sitting with her on the seaside bench
our faces kissed by the morning breeze
cried hearing her sing out to passing children
cried as I touched her sleeping softness
cried every day through the longest winter of my life
cried far into sunnier seasons

this morning, when I opened my eyes
I thought of her once more

and I smiled

tio stib

You might also appreciate: You Will Always Be My Valentine; My Dementia Diary

 

My Garden of Words

there is a porch 
in my mind’s quiet place 
broad, shaded, open 
where I sit and look out 
at my garden of words 

listening 
enjoying 
watching words waving 
in the gentle breeze of memories 
each seed 
an echo 

of planting 
caring 
weeding 
hoping 

waiting 

wondering 

would faith be rewarded 
would something glorious appear 

sometimes
unexpected beauty blossomed 
sometimes 
no matter the effort expended 
new life never sprouted 

yet still I garden with words 
planting, caring, hoping 
sitting on my porch each day 
marveling at the miracle 
of creativity 

tio stib
2019, 2020

You might also enjoy: River of Words, Life Journey Poems & Prose

The Lost American Porch

I once lived in a small town
in a small house with a front porch
a sheltered space protecting the entry door
a spot where I would hang out
sitting on a chair, sometimes the steps
drink a beer or lemonade
and simply enjoy the world passing by

a horn would honk, a friendly wave
kids would call out as they passed on their bicycles
neighbors walking dogs, hurrying home from work
“Hello!” 
“Good evening!”
“Nice to feel summer again.”
“Yes, aren’t the roses beautiful?”
“How’s your garden?”
“Beans and peas are up.”
“Going fishing Saturday?”
“Yup.”

these words and waves were the gold threads 
that wove a sense of connectedness , a feeling of belonging
through my life, a fabric seen and felt but not recognized in the moment

I’ve since moved, to bigger places, more complicated worlds
houses that now greet the street with cavernous carports
yawning doorways for cars beside small openings seldom used by people
and these places lack porches, no commitment to connect to the outside world
no attempt to simply sit and watch, to hear, to feel the pulse of community

I do miss the lost American porch

I miss the Americans who used to wave and talk as they passed by

tio stib
2018, 2020
 

You might also enjoy: Finding Home, Let’s Voyage Into the New American House

My Dementia Diary, a blind caregiver’s journey with his wife and her dementia

In January 2013, Tio Stib lost his sight and his wife began losing her mind. He was blind and she was diagnosed with  Alzheimer’s disease. Suddenly, the adventurous life they’d enjoyed became a dramatically different journey. Mostly as a way to cope, Tio began to blog, using prose and poetry to describe their altered path in life. His blog posts evolved into this book.

“My Dementia Diary” is Tio’s recounting of the seven year journey that followed, a story sometimes humorous, often poignant, and always intimate, the story of how a blind man became the sole caregiver for his wife with her deteriorating dementia.

This is a story about adapting to adversity, about the devastating impact of dementia, about marriage, commitment, and faith.

Above all, “My Dementia Diary” is a story about the power of love.

My Dementia Diary Final cover copy

The book will be available as part of a GoodReads Giveaway until April 11. Here’s the link- GoodReads Giveaway until April 11

The ebook is available on Amazon KDP

Apple Books

A note from the author-

No way, I thought, this can’t be happening to us. Like millions of others facing the news that a loved one has dementia, I denied it. But my wife’s dementia was painfully real and I felt utterly helpless and alone.

I was saved by love. I was saved by the boundless kindness of good people who cared for us in our times of need and by the unwavering joy for life my wife shared even as her mind faded away.

My hope is our story will bring similar solace to you.

Without

there is no happy
without sad
there is no good
without bad

there is no high
without low
there is no stop
without go

there is no wrong
without right
there is no dark
without light

there is no courage
without fear
there is no far
without near

there are no tears
without smiles
there is no distance
without miles

there is no quiet
without din
there is no out
without in

there is no wild
without tame
there is no different
without same

there is no peace
without strife
such are the facts
of daily life

and from these truths
I choose my fate

I will be love
and without hate

tio stib

2015, 2020

You might also enjoy: Walking With My Lover’s Ghost; Life Journey Poems & Prose

Insomnia

there are bedtimes when 
I dream in peace
a mind released to roam
then others when 
the clock grinds on
in purgatory’s womb
I lay now in eternal night
counting endless sheep
hoping this will somehow lead
to mindless, blissful sleep

tio stib

2015, 2018, 2020

You might also enjoy: Life is Like a Broken Egg; Life Journey Poems & Prose