Grace – A Poem

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Grace – A Poem

I am awed by the way you move me
like freshly fallen snowflakes dusting across the frozen ground.
Some days I forget the barren tundra from which I came
and how you whispered by name, echoing across that vacant landscape
so that a lost soul could be found.

Some days time passes by me without a single thought
that each waking moment is a treasure –
a gift granted, light years away from being deserved.
But despite all my wrongs and all the foolish footpaths
I chose to walk, in my time of desperation I called
and without hesitation you answered.

Each single second is abounding opportunity,
a renewed possibility for new life.
My destination was one I was unable to arrive at
by the work of my own hands, but while I lingered,
withering away in the darkness, you nestled me
within your loving embrace and brought me back into the light.

The fact that I breathe and my heart beats
is a living testament to your endless love and grace.
May I never forget from where I came and that each day is a gift
that I should unceasingly praise and never waste.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

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Life’s Amphitheater – A Poem About Helping the Less Fortunate

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As I was driving down the road the other day and came to a stoplight, my eyes fell upon a young woman begging on the side of the road. I must admit that often times I am quick to judge out of pride or wonder why they are too lazy to pick themselves up and get a job or get help for their addiction. Often times I put the blame on their shoulders and often times it may be. But that woman’s image flooded my heart with sympathy – her head was hung low, and it was clear that she was ashamed of herself and her situation. I found myself wanting to write her story…and not just hers, but for all those struggling in the world without a voice.

It is easy to judge, but much harder to place ourselves in the shoes of another. We all have issues we wish to keep hidden in the safety of our hearts and minds. And what we often times attribute to our strength, our character, or our success has nothing to do with our actions, but only the grace of God.

What would your life look like without loving parents, a loving spouse, a warm and safe home; without teachers, mentors, and other positive influences? What would your life look like if you were abused as a child, afraid of going home after school, or knowing there wouldn’t be anyone there to ask you how your day was or help you with your homework? What would your life look like without someone to help you through college, without an employer who was willing to take a chance on a young intern, without a friend to pick you up all the times you fell? I don’t know, but I think it would do us all a little good to keep our judgments hushed and our hearts open to the stories of the less fortunate people around us.

Life’s Amphitheater – A Poem

Sing a song for the brokenhearted
Whose hopes were snatched away like a thief in the night;
For those who’ve been burnt by the flames of love,
Their hearts charred and scarred no longer with the will to fight.

Sing a song for the prince of pain
Whose sorrows cast shadows upon the skies.
Sing, sing for the once crowned king
Whose tears fall like rain from dismal eyes.

Sing a song for fairy tales lost.
Reality stings like salt on an open wound.
Yesterday’s hours were filled with childhood play.
Oh, how the years pass away much too soon.

Drum a dirge for the divorcee,
Who was ill-equipped to hear the secrets that fell upon their ears.
The soul shatters like sheet of glass
When reality reflects the realization of your deepest fears.

Drum a dirge for dying dreams
That have been abandoned for monetary pursuits.
To live a life never meant for our hearts
Is is pull up your essence and chop it off at the roots.

Drum a dirge for the desolate and deserted
Who hobble hopelessly, begging on downtown streets.
Do not be quick to judge a stranger
Until you pick up their bags and take a ride in their seat.

Belt out a ballad for the afflicted,
For the addicted, and for the anxious minds.
Have sympathy for the struggle you might not understand,
For we each carry a story we wish to leave behind.

Belt out a ballad for the sick and suffering;
Share their tale of sadness and woe.
A kind smile and gentle hand is often the only demand
To make somber faces delight and glow.

Belt out a ballad for the fatherless,
Familyless, and utterly alone
Whose story goes untold, lost
Sinking to the bottom of life’s ocean like a heavy stone.

Have pity on the less fortunate people
Whose notes resound throughout life’s amphitheater.
We are all apart of one beating force,
One united, cosmic voice; one rhyme, one rhythm, one meter.

-Poem and Content Written by Justin Farley


 

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One More Taste – A Poem

Like an empty bottle of whiskey,
I’ve drank you down to the last drop.
The alcoholic in me is still thirsty,
But my rationale tells me to stop.

A madman feening, I sit alone with my demons,
Pacing, wrestling with racing thoughts.
Counting the minutes waiting out these hellish withdrawals,
But the hands sit idle on the clock.

There is no joy for an addict
Walking away from his self-prescribed relief.
Yet knowing that somehow he must get clean,
But doesn’t know how to bear the grief.

I’ve sworn off the drink,
But the fire of your aftertaste still burns on my lips,
Memories on my mind, wanting to rewind
And get just one more fix.

I may be sober,
But the hangover remains.
Without my elixir to soothe me,
I’m left only to bear the pain.

This bottle remains empty –
A void of space that can’t be replaced.
I know that another drink could be my downfall,
So why do I long for another taste?

One Is Never Enough, Ten Will Never Do – A Poem About Addiction

a man who  is ashamed, lonely, and depressedHaving suffered through the bonds of addiction, I sought in this poem to somehow put into perspective what the transformation of an addict is like. It never starts off as tragedy, but as a solution to all life’s problems – the missing puzzle piece that we’ve been searching for all of our life to make us fit. And nothing is better than discovering the magic of our elixir or drug of choice because it’s never about the experience. It is about healing the mangled, broken human being we’ve been carrying around inside our chest our whole life.

We rejoice. We celebrate. We can’t get enough. Finally, we are free. Finally, we have something that makes our darkness and fears disappear. But somewhere along the way, we cross a line. I don’t think any addict can truly know what day or time that line was crossed. But when we cross it, our enchanted dream becomes a bone-chilling nightmare. A sickness so swift comes over us that we fail to diagnose ourselves (unfortunately some never do). There is no romanticism in the depths of addiction. It is the coldest hell that man can ever go through.

There is often much confusion and anger towards loved ones who have addiction issues. That anger and frustration is not invalid. But for the addict, it is not some trip to Disneyland, but a ride down avenues that few can bear. It is the process of the soul shattering, and when the soul shatters, chaos is bound to follow. We are responsible for our actions, but the active addict is enduring a world that you can never begin to comprehend. We are not bad humans. We are sick, broken, mad, and in need of restoration. Love requires truth and confrontation. It cannot sit back and watch, while it’s lover is dying. It demands to be heard and to fight against the chaos. But love is the most powerful weapon against addiction. It takes someone else to believe you can fight back because often times an addict doesn’t have anything left to believe in. You don’t have to understand; you never will. But stretching out a hand to someone sinking is sometimes all it takes if they are willing to grab on. Blame, shame, and anger never do an addict any good. Trust me, we’ve got enough of that in our own heart to fill the world. We hate ourselves and what we’ve doing more than you can ever know. But we are frightened. We are scared. We do not know how to live in our own skin – fragile, broken, and utterly mangled. It is not deviance that drives one to addiction; it is deliverance. Deliverance from a world of hurt and pain. These hearts are already broken enough. Please do not break them even more. Restore them. Cherish them. Breathe your life back into them. Give them hope for a better tomorrow because their today is a living hell.

One Is Never Enough, Ten Will Never Do – A Poem About Addiction

One taste was all it took to love you.
You coddle me in your sweet embrace
And rock my fears and insecurities to sleep,
Nestled within your powerful arms.
But your enchanted dreams do not rub away from my eyes,
And I find it impossible to say good-bye to our nightly rendezvous.

I am drowning in your love,
But still thirsty.
Still yearning for just one more,
But somehow I know that will never do –
My every thought is of you
And the magic that your cast upon my broken mind.
You fix me and as long as you’re by my side,
The world is fine.
My strides are long and steady.
I’m cool, calm, confident, and ready
To take on the world with my head held high and my eyes
Ready to look life in the face.

But without the transformation I undergo after your taste,
I am lost, weak, scared, and incompetent.
My eyes drag across the floor
And fear commands my every move.
No.
One more will never do.
I need every ounce of you
Rattling through my veins, breaking these chains
That bind me in isolation.

But love, things were going so well.
What is this desolation
That now flows from your well?
Your spell has enchanted me blind
And numb to life.
What started off as waves of calm
Have turned to tides of chaos,
Screaming, shrieking out in piercing alarms.

I am not well.
No. My being is fluttering away in the breeze,
And a new form – some deformed demon
Forces me to my knees.
I only wanted one.
But one was not enough.
Neither was two.
Or the ten that followed two.

I no longer desire to be kissed.
My mind insists that I must be swallowed
Up in your madness, in the sadness
Of this depraved love affair that has turned sour.
I do not know the hour
That I turned from lover to slave.
But I look through blurred, sunken eyes at my reflection
And never have been so afraid.

I am no longer me.
I am not my own.
And who can comprehend the clamor of this confinement?
None. I walk alone
Through the dark corridors –
I reside within the empty walls.
I am an inmate on death row,
Silently drinking my way towards my execution date,
And my executioner will not wait, nor hear my plea.
I shiver in the silence of my cold seduction.
Oh, how I long to break free!
From this madness, this chaos, this never-ending itch
That I can’t stop scratching,
My claws ripping away the flesh of a once decent man.
But he is far gone from me, a monster is what I am.

I don’t want you.
But I need you.
No longer for safety, but to survive.
My love, I am a stumbling corpse,
Barely breathing, barely alive.
Realization reeks like a rotten carcass,
Festering, decaying in swarming summer heat,
Waves of repugnance sweeping me off my feet.

For truth stings sharper than a thousand bees.
Truth, heavier than the weight of the world,
When reality knocks an addict to his knees.
Oh, my sweet friend…
I thought your love was true!
But now I know one is never enough,
And ten will never do.

– Poem Written by Justin Farley


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The Tinman – A Poem

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The Tinman – A Poem

Your beacon blazes with the firestorm
Of a thousand pyres.
In your eyes I find the fires –
Smoke signals that rise to the heavens
And lead me on a journey
Out of the confinement of earthly shackles
That have clanged like lonely church bells
Ringing in the early morning,
Beckoning for deliverance around my feet for countless eons.
But when our hearts meet,
The cold of chaotic confusion is warmed by the heat
You infuse in me, soothing me to the core,
Stilling this ailment that never quits, never relents
Like a nagging child consistently tugging on my sleeve.
But the chilling winter breeze
That howls throughout my chest’s empty corridor
Is driven back from whence it came
Under the concealment of your shelter.
A whisper of your tongue sends new forecasts
Of warmer weather upon my heart’s radar.

Angelic avenues appear before me.
I can see Avalon in the distance –
My vision cleared from the fog
That has hung over my head like a drab curtain
For far too long.
Your song pierces the mist of madness,
And I see the kingdom once again
That I believed to have crumbled
Under the weight of tyrannical vacancy.
But now there is a peace in me –
A gentle but consistent flame that is growing,
Consuming all my darkness and blazes brighter
With each new tree of dead wood I chop down
And throw on top of it.
I do the work, but you provide the oxygen
That allows this bonfire to reach ever higher,
Burning off the shadows of these hanging leaves of treetop trees,
Opening my outlook like a door,
Revealing the heavens in this dark forest once more.

I am yet free –
Still stuck in these dark woods
My mind has resided in for years.
But these towering trees of torment
Are falling one by one,
Chopped and loaded into the hearth of your love.
My ax may be rusted, and my tin skin clanks,
Weighing me down, leaving me falling behind
Trying to make up for lost time,
But I am moving, even if it is sometimes slowly.
When I find myself weak and lowly
Will you oil me up and wait for me?
Will you see me through to the emerald gates of Oz?
Your beacon bellows –
A woodcutter’s dream to have your resistant flames
Scorch and singe back the bark’s leather skin.
I will continue my hacking until this forest
Is but a memory of protruding stumps
That serve as a reminder of what was
And what will never again be,
As long as there’s a fire in your heart,
And you are here fighting next to me.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

If you enjoyed this post, I would greatly appreciate it if you like, share, or comment on it. Follow my blog to receive notifications when new posts are published. You can find my other Christian poems, Lent poems, love poems or inspirational poems at https://alongthebarrenroad.com/category/poetry/


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My Own Prison – A Christian Poem

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My Own Prison – A Christian Poem

Your law feels like a jailer’s prison
that constrains me in a straight jacket,
unable to move within my cell.
I could strip off my dirty clothes
and unlock my chamber door…
But what awaits me out in the free world?
What of my foolish desires
if life loses all meaning and beauty
becomes simply a fragment of the human mind?
No. I can’t bear it. I won’t.
But don’t you see my problem?
Don’t you see what leaves me pacing puzzled
with this putrid pondering,
wandering through mud and mire,
sore, winded, and tired,
flames that lick up my skin and scorch
my fragile heart and fill it with desire?

Oh, don’t you see?
There’s no hope. I’ll never be free.
I can’t live in a world without you,
but with you there’s a crushing weight
upon my shoulders I can’t bear.
Try as I might, I fail,
resigned to listen to my own desires
instead of seeking your heart.
I am a stubborn and lonely dragon,
determined to to live in a dark, dank cave
doggedly guarding my treasure.
Eyes of brimstone and hardened scales upon my skin,
too scared, too unwilling to let down my guard
and let you in.

Relieve me from my restless wanderings.
Make me feel no guilt when I fail.
Or tear down this hardened heart
and release me from this jail.
I want nothing more than to have you.
Well, nothing except maybe my own free will.
Do you see my paradoxical problem?
Do you see what keeps me up at night
tossing, turning, yearning to forget
and get some sleep?
If it be your will, release me.
Teach me how to deal with this darkness –
these starving desires constantly screaming
in my ears pleading for me to give them
some pleasure to eat.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

If you enjoyed this post, I would greatly appreciate it if you like, share, or comment on it. Follow my blog to receive notifications when new posts are published. You can find my other Christian poems, Lent poems, love poems or inspirational poems at https://alongthebarrenroad.com/category/poetry/


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The Inner Man – A Poem About Being Afraid To Show Emotion

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The Inner Man – A Poem About Being Afraid To Show Emotion

Can eyes hide the rivers
Of pain that flow inside?
Can ears mute the quaking, shaking
Of a heart that booms
With thunders of broken dreams?
There’s a storm raging inside the man
He doesn’t wish the world to see,
So he puts on his business attire each morning
And paints a bright, thin smile upon his face
With delicate precision and attempts to erase
The evidence bulging out of his interior corridors –
Pain piled up like dirty laundry
Waiting to be washed clean.
He desperately tries to tuck away his past
And puff out his chest in efforts of pride,
But he’s bursting at the seams.
His melancholic madness can only hide
For so long from his daily routine
Until the tear drops and whiskey shots
Reach the top and spill over
Into his public persona.
There’s no shame in admitting defeat.
Hope begins when pride takes a seat,
The paint brush gets put away,
And the heart is allowed to show
Through to the face.
Solitude must be replaced by solidarity.
It is easy to convince ourselves
That no one will understand,
But fellowship in struggles and pain
is shared by each and every man.
It is far time we stop pretending
To be stoic clowns
And have the courage to wear the face in public
We wear when no one else is around.
True masculinity is not being emotionless,
But being tough enough to reveal
The emotions of our soul,
To embrace the inner man
And stop allowing culture to control
Our voice.

-Poem Written By Justin Farley

If you enjoyed this post, I would greatly appreciate it if you like, share, or comment on it. Follow my blog to receive notifications when new posts are published. You can find my other Christian poems, Lent poems, love poems or inspirational poems at https://alongthebarrenroad.com/category/poetry/


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Going All-In For Recovery

_DSC0016One of the most detrimental things an addict / alcoholic can do to hinder their recovery is to believe the world’s view that their problem is an external one – that if only they’d quit drinking or drugging they’d be restored, good as new. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The belief that alcohol / drugs are the problem can defeat us before we even get started. Of course our using is a problem and needs to be stopped, but it isn’t The Problem. What is the difference between the heavy drinker and the alcoholic? Well, one is able to control or stop their drinking in dire circumstances, while the other cannot.

I believe that it is imperative to recovery to understand why two people, who seem to drink the same way externally, react completely different when forced to stop. Surely, there is a chemical / biological factor that the heavy drinker doesn’t have. But I think the main difference is psychological and spiritual.

Jim is a heavy drinker. Whenever he drinks, he almost always gets completely loaded, and it’s putting stress on his marriage. When his wife comes to him with an ultimatum, Jim agrees to quit and no longer drinks. He misses it, but it does not run his life. Bob, on the other hand, drinks just as much as Jim, promises his wife to quit as well, but doesn’t last more than a day before he’s drinking again. Bob was just as sincere as Jim about quitting drinking and loves his wife just as much as Jim, so why couldn’t he stop and Jim could?

It all has to do with intention. I believe the main difference between the two drinkers is the “why” of why they drink. The heavy drinker sees drinking as something fun, exciting, and loves to party. While the alcoholic’s drinking career may start off this way, by the end they see drinking as an escape, a necessity to deal with life, and medicine to cure an internal conflict so deep that they’d rather throw their life away than face life sober.

I can’t recall ever meeting an alcoholic or addict that didn’t have a serious mental or emotional problem. Whether it was depression, bipolar, anxiety, family issues, abuse, etc., there was always something they were trying to numb themselves to. We are all sick, hurt people and using is our medicine to fix the mess inside of us. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe heavy drinkers share the same view of their drinking. The reason we can’t stop using is because dealing with our shit sober scares us so bad that we’d rather live a lifetime miserable and high.

If all you do is decide to get sober without cleaning up the internal mess, you may be able to stay sober for a little while, but you’ll either go back out for the same reasons you started in the first place, change to some other addiction to forget your problems, or be absolutely miserable. There is freedom in quitting drinking, but if you don’t deal with your demons, you can never truly be free of them.

I know this message all too well because it’s one I didn’t listen to. My main reason for drinking was to deal with an anxiety disorder and be able to relax and be the fun, outgoing person I wanted to be. I finally came to a place where I decided to get sober because it was ruining my life. But I felt sorry for myself and decided getting sober was a hard enough mountain to climb as it was and never fully dealt with my anxiety issues. It’s a blessing that over 7 years later I’m still sober. But I’m still dealing with the same feelings that I drank away all those years ago. I look back at my sobriety and know I’ve never been free. I may have been released from my prison, but I’ve still got handcuffs around my wrists and shackles around my ankles.

I am working through these issues now, but I know it would have been so much easier had I dealt with them when I first got sober. And over these 7 years there have been some close calls when my anxiety almost drove me back to drinking. Not because I wanted to, but out of self-defense because I felt like I had to drink in order to remain sane. I’ve been lucky. I am an exception to the rule, and most people in my situation turn back to using.

When you enter into recovery, submit to becoming fully recovered. Don’t just live sober. Live free. I don’t think I speak only for myself when I say that all of us have something that was driving us to use. Clear that closet out and deal with those demons, or they’ll continue to haunt you and tear your life apart, sober or not.


 

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The Neglected Lover – A Love Poem About Self Love and Loving Yourself

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Sometimes it is easy to love your neighbor, but much more difficult to have self love. Self loathing and self-hatred are real problems for some people. You would never treat others or hold them to the same standards as you do yourself, so why do you keep doing it? You’re just as deserving of love as they are! Here’s a love poem that you can read to yourself. I hope you enjoy it.

 

The Neglected Lover – A Poem About Self Love and Loving Yourself

When will you ever let yourself be enough?
When will you stop second guessing yourself,
Examining your entire life under a microscope
And highlighting every flaw?

When will you accept that you’re worthy
This very moment – not after the future accomplishment,
Not after this mess is cleaned up,
But right now?

When will you stop scrubbing your skin until it bleeds,
Trying to remove a stain that’s been there
Since you were born?
When will you stop loathing your weaknesses
And start accepting them as opportunities
For God to work directly through you?

When will you stop dragging your head along the floor
And be confident enough to look the world in the face?
When will you stop wishing you were someone else,
Living someone else’s story, and write your own?

When will you let your past failures rest
And no longer haunt you?
When will you finally take off the chains
Your mind has bound you in
And walk as a free child of God?

Don’t do it for wives and husbands,
Sons and daughters.
Don’t do it for bosses and co-workers,
Fathers and mothers.
Don’t do it for friends or foes,
Even for success or for the sake of happiness.
Do it for the person that walks around
With you everyday, goes to bed with you every night,
And stares back at you in the mirror every morning.
Do it for you.
The time for feeling useless and unlovable is over.
It’s time for you to love yourself.


 

photo credit: Rafael 1984 via photopin cc