Tag Archives: barn

The Way Out is Through

Photograph courtesy of Lloyd Goldstein: http://fineartamerica.com/art/all/lloyd+goldstein/all

We do not have to accept a new perspective, it might be too frightening.  Indeed, the saying goes— “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”  It reminds me of a story of a mouse that lived in a cramped space but discovered an opening into a new room.  She entered, but got so scared by the vastness, that she ran back to her small life.  Here is a poem-long puzzled over by many, addressing that very way of thinking.

Locked In
By Ingemar Gustafson

All my life I lived in a coconut.
It was cramped and dark.
Especially in the morning when I had to shave.
But what pained me most was that I had no way
to get into touch with the outside world.
If no one out there happened to find the coconut,
If no one cracked it, then I was doomed
to live all my life in the nut, ad maybe even die there.
I died in the coconut.
A couple of years later they found the coconut,
cracked it, and found me shrunk and crumpled inside.
“What an accident!”
“If only we had found it earlier…”
“Then maybe we could have saved him.”
“Maybe there are more of them locked in like that.”
“Whom we might be able to save,”
they said, and started knocking to pieces every coconut
within reach.
No use! Meaningless! A waste of time!
A person who chooses to live in a coconut!
Such a nut is one in a million!
But I have a brother-in-law who lives in an acorn.

But many do choose to “break through” limits and limiting beliefs.  I recall skiing with Special Olympics when a young woman with Down syndrome had the courage to seize insight and move through her own “Magic Door!”

Jenny glowed , her eyes bright as if a light  had suddenly come on inside her mind. “Oh I see,” she said. After years on the bunny slope turning and stopping her skiis, she had made it to the big hill at last, but when she fell dismounting the lift, knocking over a whole crowd of fellow Special Olympians come to cheer her on, she lay flat on her back watching other skiers navigate the high slopes. It was then that she announced that she “got it.” Finally, all the years of turning and stopping made sense. It was as if she had found a key that opened a magic door and she left the safety of the bunny slope forever.

cover of The Way Back
New novel: The Way Back


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Dear Friends:
I am announcing the birth of my novel, The Way Back. Please download and read it.  It is in all e-book formats. The low price of this e-book of historical fiction is on purpose, in hopes you will write a short review on your e-book page.
This is my second book, a love letter to the veterans of all our wars; I hoped to capture Wisconsin, Lake Superior, our farm and the sacred space of the dairy barn in words. It was a tall order. What words could illuminate my parent’s dreams; what expressions would honor the Ojibwa, and the Manitou of the land? Longing to share the untamed and proud, the gentle, yet fierce spirit of the Great North Woods as I knew it, I sought to immortalize those who lived there. Oh to feel again the velvet breath of the horses against my cheek! I wrote about life and death, about philosophy and love and how to find the way forward on The Way Back. True enough, John Chapman’s poetry seethes with anguish, but the sweetness of his spirit sings to you in his words forged in the trenches of World War I, and formed by the hand of fortune rolling out the dice. I promise you will know him and hope you will love him —as I did.
I am inviting you to be my guest on this heartfelt journey into the heartland.
Susan Carnes

A Space to Matter

Here is a  space for us to share with poetry, song, images and prose, our somewhat battered hearts. In creative expression, healing begins. Like setting free caged birds, we can release to the universe our deepest fears and our moments of connection, choosing words worthy of our feelings. I offer the first poem, one written to explain how a soldier found his way home after World War I-writing a journal in the loft of a barn (look for it in my novel, The Way Back). He came to hide from memories of war, but in this cathedral space, he stormed heaven’s gate and emerged victorious. I call it

The Altar

So tired from dragging my memories,
Like heavy stones weighing me down,
I came to hide and warm the small thing I call my self
In the loft of the barn

In this high place
I observed life- going on without me
Safe while I tried to bury my secret sack of rocks
dark stones stained with blood and tears
in the sweet hay smelling of my youth.
But like an avalanche, they rolled out unbidden
into the strange light of this cathedral
to be tumbled into gems
that I polished into words
An offering for the tabernacle
on the altar of the barn.
Nothing lasts they tell me.
People move on, boards and beams decay
But the words I’ve chosen, symbols of my meaning
Are released as am I.
Free to create as the winds of change blow through me
And to give it all away again, keeping nothing.
Larger, ever larger as the “I” melts away like a dying ember,
Consumed in living
                                                                                                      Photo by Raymond Lam