it was suicide i think
you willed yourself to die
when all the remedies were
untenable — or so you thought
our lives have devolved into
one pointless exercise
an attempt to avoid
the inescapable pain
and now i realize that joy
and love are inscribed
indelibly on opposing sides
of suffering two faces
on a coin spinning so fast
one cannot discriminate
loving pain suffering joy
i have heard that those who have
great capacity for ecstasy
are those who suffer most

© Darryl Willis 2021

September 13, 2021

This is not the poem I wished to write.
You let go, gave up the fight (make no
mistake, it is a fight — not some grasping
self-centered fear of sinking into the night —
but defiance of that which should not be).
To embrace that dark reality
cannot be despised; but to give
up hope so long before? You broke my heart.
You were the one who stood between, holding
our frayed, unraveled ends together. You were
the fulcrum and balance that kept us in perspective.
How was it, then, that you lost yours?
You weren’t supposed to go this way.
We could not even say goodbye.

© Darryl Willis 2021

the black knots
found by fingers
while eyes closed
mind opened and
close to truth
close to heart
beat to
the breath

the black knots
knot my mind
while they remind
me what is not
to be avoided
black knots
with tears
and hope

the black knots
face who I am
and who I’m not
combined with plea
to who he is
a simple task
to accept
what I could not
give to myself

the black knots
a moment of
solidarity
with child
of timidity
who dares not who
cannot see
for the wonder
of it all

the black knots
knot a broken soul
the child despised
who would not dare
to raise the eyes
to your face
who stands far off
in sacred space
standing alone
and lonely waits

© Darryl Willis 2021

dare we judge
dare we judge
dare we judge

the hag in the grocery store
with her rude and salty tongue
the suited man in sanctuary
reciting prideful, pious prayers

the cruel girl who remains
frightened of mirrored image
of the father who
simmers in his rage

the teenaged boy caught
between the twin desires
of wild abandon
and holy discipline

all who come with their
imperfect prayers and
burning lips to stand before
the juries who bless and curse

as we ignore our own
tripartite denials
before the courtyard flames
at the crowing of the dawn

without the word
they may all (we may all)
have been far worse
for all our wear

© 2021 Darryl Willis

At first, the years began to trudge;
one day marched into the next
with agonizing slothfulness.

My birthdays never seemed to come:
anticipation — growing pains.
Then everything seemed to change.
I do not know how or when,
only that the pages of
the calendar began to turn
with increased velocity
until twelve months could fit into
a three-by-two laminate card.
Now I am old. From this side
my years stretch backward, far beyond
my day of birth and long before
my dad learned how to fly — before
a horse was shot out underneath
my forebear in the Civil War.

Life is the river that flows both ways
without end and in the end
it turns out that we’re all old souls.

©2021 Darryl Willis

Darryl Willis

Has worked in non-profits for 40 years and is currently a Regional Director for an international non-profit. He holds an MA in Biblical text.

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