This is a memorial post dedicated to the late Jimmy Cherry who my family lost on 9/11/04. A different tragedy, for a different reason. I published this in 2009 in the first years of Oddball Magazine. Thank You for allowing me the space to remember Jim while we also remember everyone who was lost on 9/11/01.
September 11, 2001, our nation suffered as a country, we suffered as people. We watched powerless as the buildings fell, and soon we were at war.
The next year on 9/11, I was in Salem Hospital. Soon I had the strongest manic episode I ever had and walked thirty six miles. I wrote a book about it.
I remember that day in Salem Hospital. Hearing the lists of people being remembered depressed me. I was angry at our president. I was paranoid. I thought something was going to happen again. I spent most of the time that day away from the television in my cage. Outside at Salem Hospital, in the psyche unit, there is a place, a cage like place to smoke cigarettes. While I was smoking, I could hear in the air, the sounds of jet planes. I knew they were fighter jets, surveying the land. It was really cloudy that day and cold. There was a beautiful girl there with me, we smoked cigarettes and began a conversation. She was manic, she was my manic girlfriend, while I was there.
September 11, 2003, I don’t remember. September 11th of the next year, I will never forget. That was the day my brother in law Jimmy died. He died of cancer. My sister has never been the same since he died. With my family being so distant, we all came together through Jimmy. I can never forget that day.
What happened the day Jimmy died, was called a living wake. I was there when he died. I watched my nephew then 15, holding his father’s hand, while my sister stroked the hair on Jimmy’s head, as we watched Jimmy die. I had never seen someone die before. My family has never been the same since. Yet, every september 11th, my family gets together, or if we can’t… we call one another, and remember.
Today is September 11th, 2009. It’s raining today. It always seems to rain on September 11th. On 9/11/01, it rained sulfur and burning ash from 84 floors up. Smoke and fire, as two towers crashed to the ground. On September 11th, 2004 when Jimmy died, it didn’t rain. But for my sister, I think it has never stopped raining.
God Bless All those who were lost on September 11th, all those who lost on September 11th, and all those still lost because of September 11th
There once was a town it seemed that was always cold. Even when it was warm it still was always cold.
The people were mean. The people weren’t green. The people weren’t clean. They all forgot their dreams and no one could sleep.Not even sheep, could make them dream.
They all had forgot their meaning, and what it meant to be free.
They lived their lives as shadows. they lived in poor man castles, some were drunk and staggered, and some were slaves in shackles.
They all had forgotten, what once was their motto,— to live in darkness, you could never cast a shadow, and in the darkness, shadows never follow!
And when the light shines from the sun in the seasons, whether frost bitten hands, or those wearing mittens, the sun always shined on the ones who asked for wisdom
and one did….the lonely boy on christmas.
and this lonely boy just wanted one thing for christmas, a dog or a kitten, wrapped up with a ribbon, a bright blue ribbon. If he had a dog… he could pet him with his mittens and watch him chase pigeons, and play fetch with the children.
But it never happened, no gifts were given to him on this christmas.
or any christmas.
there he sat in the town of castles and shadows, where the cold seemed to sting, everyone and everything.
and he began to reminisce of his families last christmas, the last time he was given a kiss on his head, and that warm feeling he had, and the last words ever said by his dad.
“you must live by yourself we can no longer take care of you”
and he said to them “I’m just a boy…what do you expect me to do?”
but his father and mother, they didn’t love one another, and they didn’t really mean to say what they said, so one day they both got into their cars and left.
But before they left they both kissed him both on the cheek, and said
“I’m sorry son, that we have to leave. Here are the keys this is your very own castle. And never leave, always stay in the shadows. We will always be with you, but we must leave and we hope for your forgiveness
and then they had left the lonely boy on Christmas.
At the same time there was a young widow, who always sat by the window, with a sad glow, waiting for her husband to come home.
He and her, also lived in this world.
The world that was mentioned in part one, a world of no fun, where noone could smile in fear of being stung. because the cold was too cold, and some were too poor to
buy coats, and besides,
the castles were hidden by shadows, and moats protected by ghosts, but still there was hope that her love would come home. and every day she wrote from a journal
that was given to her, from her husband who had disappeared, in the cold of the winter, and made her from married and happy, to a way too young widower.
Her name was Rosaline, and she was only eighteen when she found the man of her dreams. But one day he left to go to the store, and was never seen anymore, and
people had said that he had gone missing, in a cold storm, on a frosty Thanksgiving, and they stopped searching after a few weeks, cause noone could survive out in the
cold on those peaks. But Rosaline, never stopped looking out that window, till one day it started to snow. and then it suddenly stopped. And out from they sky an angel
Before I tell you how the angel dropped, and why the snow stopped, we must go back to the spot where the boy sat patiently, waiting for the day, when his family
would come back, and how all he wanted was that dog for christmas, a little dog wrapped up with a bright blue ribbon, but really
gifts were not on his wish list, just a little slice of happiness, outside of all that darkness
That day the boy decided to leave, he said to himself, I’m going to get a tree, so he left his castle and stepped out of the shadows, and headed to the forest outside of
the meadow, and began a long walk out of the darkness and into an even darker forest. He could have went left, and went towards the shore, he decided to go
north, and ventured forth towards, the forest and the trees, and the bright north star. He knew little of where he was, but it was better then where he would be, and
besides it was Christmas he wanted a tree.
Before he left, he dressed in his warmest clothes, hat and coat, and scarf to protect his nose, and the only possession he had with him, was a backpack of provisions,
and a compass, and a map. And off he went, and took his first step out of the darkness, while in that same town a widower wept.
Oh Where did he go, got lost in the snow? She sang to herself, while she sat by the window. Oh where did he go? And when will he return, to give me his love, I so
She repeated these lines, like she was hypnotized, the saddest moment in a beautiful life. She was only 23 when he said good-bye and went out into that cold november
winter, and was never seen alive, but keep faith good reader, a good love never dies.
“Oh where did he go? When will he return? why did you leave me, it wasnt your turn.” She sang this song in morning, she sang it still mourning, and that was when she
realized, that her eyes were not blind, and in her heart she believed he was alive.
At the same time she sang by her window in that empty house, the compass was pointing telling the boy to go south.
But the map said that the meadow, was the way to go, but his heart told him to follow the star, and into the dark, he ventured in, to the deep forest, where
the trees lied there in.
Well dear reader, you must be weary of me, so let me tell you how the boy found his tree.
And also a brand new family.
It starts where we left, with the boy’s lonely trek, and ends, well were not quite there yet. So the boy began his climb into that deep forest, while the angels sang to him,
this simple chorus. Follow the star son, follow the star, follow the star son, follow the star. Yes, the boy was lonely and scared, for sure, but in his head and heart he
was strong and secure. People would leave him, for that he was sure, but never his family, that scar was the worst, and his head began to hurt. But before the tears
started to fall, he took a step and all of a sudden he was not by himself, and while he was down and thinking about life, he somehow had wandered onto the thinnest of
Oh reader, Oh me oh my, What did this boy do on that thinnest of ice. He walked oh so carefully, and he could hear the ice creak, and then there was the crack in the
ice he could see. He thought to himself, dang if I wasn’t thinking about all my problems, I might have seen this coming, and i could have done something, instead
of being stuck where I am, and then something happened.
The ice cracked, and splintered
and cracked, and splintered and cracked,
and the ice fell underneath his feet, and the boy was suddenly over his head, and while under the coldest degrees, he began to see,
Christmas wasn’t about getting presents or trees….it was about being happy. He was under the water gasping for air, trying desperately to be freed from a horrible death indeed,
then at this moment
a hand reached out to him. And now enters the man, Jim, the widowers husband.
Hey Kid!! Hey Kid!! Can you hear me? Grab my hand! Hey Kid!! Hey Kid!! Can you hear me, grab my arm, I’ll pull you in. That was the voice of the widowers husband.
All the boy could hear was a muffled sound, but saw the arm, and tried desperately to get out. He grabbed the strange hand that had come from above, and Jim pulled
him out with the strongest of tugs. Jim pulled the boy off of the ice, and made sure that he was alright. Can you hear me kid?! Can you hear me?!
But the boy was barely breathing, cold and shivering. What could be done to save the lonely boy on Christmas?
Jim started a fire with some sticks around him, and hoped and prayed that something could heal him. But as the fire grew stronger, soon the boy breathed in, and looked into the eyes of the man that saved him.
And at this very moment, the widower was sleeping, and dreaming what seemed to be the same thing. It was about a boy who fell on a dark night of the thinnest of ice,
and her husband was surely alive, and saved this boy’s life.
The widower hadn’t left her house since her husband had disappeared, but she had to leave, her heart was telling her so, that she had to go, out of the darkness and
back into that snow. And as she left, she took a deep breath, and that was when she realized for the first time her self, that the darkness she lived in, this town, of castles
and shadows, there were more places to see, like the place in her dream. She visioned a stream, lit up by a bright star, and there she ventured out into the dark.
And there she sang.. My heart tells me to follow my dreams, and I will sing this song until he hears me. So she began singing. My heart tells me to follow my dreams,
andI will sing till my angel hears me. And just like that, the star lit up the whole place,
and though they were far apart, she could see his face. By the place in her dream, right by the stream, where she would find her Jim, and where she found…..me.
Yes I was the lonely boy on Christmas, but now that I have grown, I am no longer alone. My family, Rosaline and my father Jim, we live outside of the darkness, where the shadows live. And though you must find your own way, and sometimes follow that dream, to get the biggest tree, or play station three, all you really want is a good family, and maybe a dog. Like the dog that I have. But really in the end a mom and a dad, and people that love you. And believing that the right star will shine above you.
So there you have it.
Merry Christmas to all of you, and all of yours. May love and light unlock all your doors.
Image by Q, A, O, P, Space via Flickr
Jason Wright is the founder and Editor of Oddball Magazine. His “Jagged Thoughts” column appears weekly.
In the mud
Not dumb but wish I
Could be someone
Idiocy is my
Where Nothing matters
I’m writing sentences
Putting words together
And if heaven is on earth
Well hell sounds a lot better
Cause if being underemployed
Or not living up to your potential
Is hell then I’m the fucking devil
Wish my skills of words
And falling backwards
My words fall foreword
And don’t make a sound
Barely hit the ground
Oh god what should I do now?
Wish I had more wishes
Could talk in digits
And fought the dragon
Saved the princess
Wishing I made a difference
In your world
Saving children in starving countries
Fighting wild fires and doing something
Getitng kittens out of trees
Getting shot out of a cannon
Spinning 360 degrees
Catching bullets in my teeth
Saving the coral reef
Finding the lost Cities of Atlantis
Winning the Nobel peace prize
Becoming poet laureate
Teaching illiterates to read
And deaf people to hear it
Can’t let my lack of success kill my spirit
God make me fearless
And make me the meanest
With the skills I need to
Fight this illness
Feeling of mediocrity
this Ship is sinking feeling
Of the whole world around me
This I’m giving up mentality
The broken leg feeling
The earth shaking and dead
Sea scroll reading braille feeling
The storm and the sun
Making love at dusk feeling
Producing high winds and
Uprooting the house that I am living feeling
This sinking suspicion that I am a villain
Not a symbiotic being floating in the stream with everyone else
Losing steam clocking In
And daydreaming all the time
Putting tired rhymes to a tired audience trying to make
My poems feign positivity
Out of taxes and ending in death
The only constant is the feeling of anxiety feeling where teeth grinding nicotine pulse pounding heart beating feet falling from under stolen sneakers feeling
Where dreams and meds are your only savior feeling
The I’m dead or dreaming feeling
The positive and absolute feeling of inferior and complex
Moods changing with the monotone t operators voice feeling
The feeling of needing my father’s teaching feeling, maybe call him tomorrow and say I miss him feeling
Knowing he’s the one behind this disorder feeling
Stopping and reading signs before bleeding feeling
Ending a poem
Hoping for a quiet night and a better day
Ending this poem on a dime feeling
Subway beauty last stop
princess never knew the real me
Ending in mid sentence
Heaven is endless
Why do we pretend to not see it?
Why do we pretend to not see it?
Why do I pretend to not see it?
Why do i pretend to not see it?
I wish I could see something
I’m praying to see something
Please fucker I’m begging for it….
Sometimes you have to show your teeth but it doesn’t mean you have to smile.
Just another Jagged Thought by Jason
Jason Wrightis the founder and Editor of Oddball Magazine. His “Jagged Thoughts” will be an ongoing feature on this site.
So a lot of people don’t get poetry
this poem is for them…
Roses are red, Violets are blue
This is the beginning of a poem
You’ve known since childhood
This is the beginning of a poem
When people used to say
That poetry began with this lame phrase
So confused are people about who poets are and what they do
And only know Poe and Dr. Seuss
Some people need a new introduction
To the written word
Welcome to the warmth of the earth
You’ve known poetry
since the day of your birth
And continue to know it
Listen to the words on the radio
Flowing from a hi-fi stereo
Each word was scribbled down first
On pad from paper from papyrus
And you listen to it,
That’s another notion about poetry
That its only for boring intellectuals who use difficult verse to describe a mundane universe
Then there is the difference between snapping and clapping
There’s really no difference
Both showing love
One sounds a little too pretentious
And the other is the human response
To words that move you and make you feel something
Different then your used to
Then there is the classics
Everyone was forced to learn in school
To be or not to be, do not go gentle into that good night, the pledge of allegiance
All words all poems
All have different meanings
But I don’t want to lose the audience
back to the beginning
Roses are red, Violets are blue
But before I go
Let me tell you
poetry is for everyone who has words or worse to worry with
Everyone has this talent to do this
So when someone says poetry is for pretentious idiots
It is, but it is also for
The hip hop kids
The worse for wear
And the neverdids
The muscle head
And brain dead
And the anarchist
The tame and the loud
The show stoppers
And the ticket takers
Poetry is for you listening
And me writing this
Of people id like to see join
The community needs you
Fuck roses are red violets are blue
If you think that poetry is that
Then you might want to read this one again
Or pick up the pen
I guarantee you’ll feel something
And if you don’t
Well that’s your opinion
your entitled to it
And I’m entitled to write a thousand poems
To disprove it
All you need to do is write down a sentence or two
An then two more
Then let your mind go
You’ll be looking at a poem
Witches are stupid
Poets kind of are like witches
We all stick to our covens
Our magic wand
But I couldn’t get down with witches
Back in Salem
When I was falling asleep in a crawlspace
PBR left out to warm
Ready to drink in the morning
Where I talked to the TV and
Branded myself blood brothers with Andrew
Where I left one morning
Nights and nights without sleeping
And decided to walk myself right into
Salem rock city
That day after where we would walk to the park
With our guitars
and showcased new songs
At yellow dogged cafes
Where I would meet my friends and share songs
Oh how I loved them
I was sick then
And didn’t realize it
I’m sick now
But I deal with it
A lovely illness
Where unchecked you become
Solitarily confined to your own madness
I thought I would feel something up here
With all these wonderful poets
But I am not one of them
I write for life
Even in the mix of their cauldron
I still didn’t fit the mix
I always feel that my words are my life
And if I don’t share them with you
We will remain strangers
And within all these poetic parlor tricks
I am writing alone
On a park bench not a
Friend to share this with
I am alone
In my own ugliness.
On a beautiful day
I still feel sadness
It’s a lovely world
I’d rather be in this lonely
Then a shadow beneath your feet
I’d rather be alone with my thoughts
Then the stars.