Internal Fire – A Poem

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Smoke fills the lungs.
Warning signals run in desperation to alert the mind
in a race that’s become all too familiar.
Flames engulf my entrails
like dry twigs thrown on a campfire on an August night.
In frantic panic, eyes search for aid,
but people pass by as if nothing were amiss.
Surely someone must feel the heat…
Can’t anyone see the fire that burns bright in these eyes?
Doesn’t anyone know the smell of the human spirit
cooking in the oven of fear or hear it’s cry,
wailing when touched by the torch
like a colonial witch burned at the stake?

My mind is already alight,
pulsing in agony,
raging like a wounded animal hobbling through the forest,
flapping my wings like a madman trying to put out invisible flames.
I wait out the blaze until every drop of fuel
has been burnt up within me.
My mind is now only simmering instead of boiling.
My brain’s fire has had it’s excess oxygen removed and dwindles.
But the coals of Hell have taken their toll.
I have been branded,
internally marked as different from society –
part man, part beast,
forced to carry these hideous scars,
these burns that have been seared upon my soul,
feeling like a traveling circus on display for all to see.

The internal fire is felt,
but remains unseen.
Daily situations necessary for living in modern society
are tiny sparks that land upon the mind’s kindling,
never knowing when flames will roar up
and engulf my essence once again,
always burning with too much heat,
and I never have enough water.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

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Living With Fear – A Poem About Anxiety Disorder and Mental Illness

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Living With Fear – A Poem About Anxiety and Mental Illness

Close your eyes.
Keep yourself blind
To the hideous beast
That hides beneath this veil of security.

Pretend you can’t see me
For who I am –
A scared, frightened, shell of a man
Raging in the solitude of fear’s prison.

I can’t even stand the vision
That stares back at me in the mirror,
So how could I expect you to accept me?
How could I expect you not to judge me?

I only wish that for one day you could see
What it feels like to crawl within my skin,
What it feels like to loose it all –
Everything you’ve ever loved, ever dreamed to your own mind.

Finding myself racing around trying to make up lost time –
The minutes, hours, days cowered in the corner,
Just wishing the world would fade away
And this anxiety would leave me in peace.

The attacks may subside, but the restlessness doesn’t cease,
Always waiting to jump me unexpectedly
Like a mugger in a dark, deserted street,
Leaving me helpless and penniless, staring death in the face.

How do I mingle and mix with the human race
When I know my revelations will label me an outcast and crazy fool?
How do I look confidently into another’s eyes
When inside my soul shrieks and my heart beats through my chest?

Where can my soul find rest
In a world of strangers
Who would surely laugh and jest
At the man beneath the mask?

How do I keep from being labeled an outcast
And not notice the eyes jeering at me like I’m a psychotic loon,
Pretending to understand, but keeping their distance,
With no desire to get close enough to help me clean up my mess?

How do I bear being labeled lazy when I’m doing my best
Just to make it through the day, make it out the door,
To achieve some level of normalcy,
And not get crushed beneath the weight of my fears?

Will they ever understand when my mind rears
Its ugly head and leaves me panicking,
Breathing in short gasps pleading,
“Can we please leave now?”

Will they ever understand how
It feels to be locked in a prison of your own being,
Pacing the hours away, wishing somehow
You could find a way to escape invisible bars?

Will they ever not be horrified at the scars
That cover the face of my soul?
Can they ever comfort me at my worst
And not run from the beast before their eyes?

So do you blame me from hiding this storm inside?
Do you know the shame I sleep with,
Always feeling like a monster –
A freak drowning in a sea of normalcy?

But this is me.
And no amount of hiding can change who I am.
I am a scared, frightened, shell of a man
Terrified of the world finding out how weak I am.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


*Painting “The Scream” by Edvard Munch

 

Alien – A Poem

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Alien –  A Poem

Feelings run too deep
like the full summer moon,
sinking in the sky’s dark sea of black.
Reminiscing, pondering over burnt out stars,
wishing their beautiful light could somehow be brought back.

But the ancient dust has crumbled,
scattered like ashes in the brisk solar wind.
But memories stand transfixed,
unaltered by time, suspended
in infinity’s domain without an end.

To navigate this sea without your stars for direction
leaves me scrambling, rambling without course.
No heat radiates by the fireside.
No flames flicker in the lantern at my bedside.
My burning passion is extinguished without a fuel source.

Shoot me across the atmosphere,
riding high tides of lonesome tears.
Won’t you pluck this bitter fruit from my hands?
I fear the past may be lost, withered beneath winter’s frost.
So queer to feel like an alien inhabiting Earth as a man.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

photo credit: Northern star trails via photopin (license)

Fear of the Lord – A Lesson On What It Means To Fear God

“Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” – Proverbs 9:10

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As you read through the Old Testament, fear of or fearing the Lord is a common theme. It wasn’t until a recent study through the book of Proverbs that I truly grasped this concept and understood it completely. The Bible continues to reveal new things in spite of what we believe we have mastered. The Word is a tree that continues to sprout new shoots even when we think it can’t grow any taller or wider.

Fearing the Lord was one of the concepts I thought I truly understood. I struggle with an anxiety disorder that is often exacerbated by the threat of God’s wrath or judgement. There are few who can understand fearing God like someone with an anxiety and panic disorder; yet, it may be this very fact that kept me in ignorance of wisdom.

I sought out help in the book of Proverbs to deal with specific sins that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t stop doing consistently for more than a few days or weeks at a time. But I found nothing, nothing that would really help me move past my own weakness and overcome the temptations I face. If I’m honest, I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I read chapter through chapter, hoping that surely the next I read would contain the knowledge I was missing. Still nothing.

Humility quickly turned to frustration. Surely, if this was God’s Word and if God really wanted to help me he would give me the knowledge I needed. All I kept hearing was “fear the LORD”, “fear of the LORD”, blah…blah…blah. Thanks, God. Think I got that one covered. But because I was looking for what I thought I needed, I was missing the message God was trying to reveal to me.

Unintentionally, I began to start contemplating what that phrase really means. My understanding was right at the surface level. Obviously, to fear God means to fear him. You do something bad or turn away from him, watch out because his wrath is likely to fall on you.  But as I dove deeper into meditating on the phrase, I realized that I think the word “fear” is really lost on our culture.

We are a society built on individualism. Fear is only understood as a response to a danger that we perceive can hurt us or threatens our individually. Fear in ancient cultures was more than just a threat; it also dealt with honor or respect. I would say that the vast majority of people fear breaking their country’s laws, but crime still occurs in high numbers everyday. Why? Because the people breaking the law may fear the law, but they don’t respect it. They may fear the consequences of their actions, but ultimately they think the rules don’t apply to themselves, or they respect their desires more than they respect the rules.

And as I pondered over this concept of fear, I began realizing how finite my understand of the “fear of the LORD” truly was. I realized that I was relating to God exactly the way a criminal relates with their county’s rules. I feared God’s wrath, but I didn’t respect him or honor him. When choosing to follow God’s laws became difficult, I always failed. It wasn’t because I powerless, as I often times felt; it was because I respected or honored by own desires and rules over God’s. I ultimately “feared” my ego and pride more than I feared God.

Fear has a lot to do with respect and even admiration. It is even a sense of awe and wonder, knowing that whatever we are fearing has more power than ourselves. If you fear a dangerous animal, such as a bear, you would never walk into its den because you respect their territory. My fear of God was sneaking around in his world, not respecting him, but hoping that he would either be sleeping, forgive me without ever changing my behavior, or not get caught.

“Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” because it makes you humble and opens your eyes to your lack of power. Yes, it does deal with the concept of God being a very real threat and danger, but I believe biblical concept of fear goes much further than that. “Fear” is probably not the best word to use in translation to get across the meaning to our culture who does not generally think of fear and respect as two sides of the same coin. Fearing God means submitting to his power, admitting that you know very little, and that his wisdom surpasses anything which you could ever conceive.

Strangely, what began as a search for a way to fix my lust problem, ended with the revelation that my problem was not really lust at all. Not fearing God was. Respecting my ego and selfish desires over God’s law was. Now lust is still a part of the equation, but I believe it to be a small part. The main thing that was keeping me from overcoming my desires was not lack of power, but lack of will.

Somewhere in the depth of my heart I believed (and still do to some degree) that I knew better than God. Somewhere I believed that I should be able to seek out pleasure wherever I want to, and if I’m honest, never wanted to stop. And I don’t think that’s ever going to completely disappear. Our very fallen nature as human beings is to look out for ourselves before anyone else, including God. The more humble we are, the weaker that desire becomes, but I think will always exist. The essence of “fear of the LORD” is not necessarily the threat of vengeance. It is viewing God as a loving parent who we respect and who’s rules who choose to follow, regardless of whether we think they are fair, right, or in our best interest. It means keeping our pride in check and understanding that God’s wisdom far exceeds our own and that even when we don’t understand or disagree, we know that he knows better than we do.

-Post Written by Justin Farley


 

photo credit: Dirty Collars via photopin (license)

The Woman in the Mirror

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The Woman in the Mirror

You are a seductive temptress
that tempts with the ticks of time.
In control of the clocks hands,
only needing to rewind to the moments we left behind.

You still lurk in the shadows –
a creature stalking in the dead of night.
But potential follows wherever your heart goes,
needing only to let go of the darkness and step into the light.

My heart goes out to you in your struggle,
to the battle that rages in your mind.
Pick up your feet each time you stumble
and never settle for the chains of fear that bind.

Though our paths have diverged,
I still desire to see yours lead to a happy ending.
I still long to see the woman emerge
from your battle – the beautiful soul I’ve seen since the beginning.

May your head be held high.
May your feet walk into the flames of fear.
May your spirit learn to fly.
And may you love the woman in the mirror.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

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The Sailor – A Poem

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The Sailor – A Poem

You’ve sent me off as an aimless navigator
Traveling upon treacherous and torrential seas.
Once was a proud and confident sailor,
But now find there’s no compass I can read.

Needles spin with the wind and poles have no meaning
When they are altered by my heart’s magnetic field.
And upon this ship it’s no easy sailing
With a split and swollen keel.

These waves that come rolling in
Only reaffirm and remind me of what rolled out with the tide.
Everyday the heat beats down on scorched, sunburnt skin
And drifting upon the open sea there’s nowhere to hide.

I do not accept my demise
And have not given up casting out my nets.
But I can’t help hungering for my past prize
When salty, quenchless water is all I seem to catch.

At least if I was shipwrecked
There’d be land where I could lay my head to rest,
But as it is I have trekked
Across endless waves and seen nothing but deep, blue nothingness.

You sent me off as an aimless navigator,
Charting waters without a course.
There are no maps for the heart-broken sailor
When the only land I know how to seek is yours.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

photo credit: nice sea waves 2 via photopin (license)

Leaving Home – A Love Poem About Rejection and Starting Over 

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Leaving Home – A Poem About Getting Rejected by a Lover

Leaving home and venturing alone
Out across the unfamiliar frontier.
The scenery and signposts are all unknown,
And my heart sags, burdened by hesitation and fear.

Traveling along tomorrow’s highway,
Musing over the miles left behind.
But when you’ve played every card there is to play,
Your eviction notice has been signed.

It’s no easy task to pack up the memories,
Pile your bags high with hopes of what you thought would be.
But when your heart is denied all entries,
It’s clear you’ve been rejected, not set free.

So now one set of footprints mark the journey
Where there once were two.
This road has become winding and curvy
At the thought of starting something new.

But I have no regrets nor reservations;
I did all that I could do.
I’m just weighted down by a trunk filled with frustrations
That I was not worth the fight for you.

I’ll travel on,
Knowing there’s an exit within my sight.
But my heart still worries how you’ll get along
Through your dark and arduous night.

My only concern is for your poor heart –
So blind and was never able to see.
I would have held your hand tightly through the dark,
But instead you’ve settled for misery.

Leaving home and venturing alone,
Determined to not let fear decide my fate.
Far better to blaze a path into the unknown
Than to remain comfortable and stagnate.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


photo credit: Iceland Highways via photopin (license)

Eclipse – A Poem

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Eclipse – A Poem

Two sides of a conflicting coin
Flip like faces in a dramatic act.
Two intricate and separate forces entangle
In a bitter struggle, leaving Earth cloaked in black.

How can such a powerful light
Be smothered by such a small, sinister hand?
A visceral visual of what evil can accomplish
When given the freedom to take root in the heart of man.

In a matter of seconds the cosmos is silenced
By the veil of darkness and death.
The yang captured beneath the yin’s net;
Hope and light suffocating and gasping for breath.

What once was so beautiful,
Shining in the sky’s endless sea,
Has now turned into a lifeless puppet,
Bound and animated by dark, dominating strings.

You were once a blazing beacon –
A fire of hope that lit up my nights.
But now, my once glorious sun,
You’ve laid down, surrendered, and given up the fight.

I only hope this is but an eclipse
And shortly you’ll come forth from hiding behind the moon.
For life is but a quick, short breath
And will not wait while you wallow woefully in your room.

Two opposite forces fight
In the face of the atmosphere;
The moon is not a worthy opponent
But kills all light when the sun hides in fear.

The moon hangs with no power,
But becomes master when the sun submits.
Defy the rebellion, do not yield to your captor.
Emerge as the victor in your heart’s eclipse.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

photo credit: Lunar Eclipse via photopin (license)

Beauty’s Battle – A Poem About Endurance and Fighting Fear

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Beauty’s Battle – A Poem About Endurance and Fighting Fear

She sits engaged in a battle
Beneath the shadow of her own face,
Slowly conceding to her own demons
Brought back by their blows, crushed beneath their weight.

She wonders what’s the use in trying
When defeat has already been secured?
For what’s left of the light is dying
And her heels dangle on the verge

Of Darkness’s valley where fear stands ready
With open jaws, salivating for an easy feast.
But quick, girl, stand firm, armed, and steady.
Don’t give them the satisfaction of seeing you kneel at their feet.

Remember where your heart lies.
Remember your true desires not corrupted by fear.
Remember the beauty that resides beneath your blue eyes.
Remember why it is I’m still here.

There’s a flame that still flickers.
Feed it with love, faith, courage, and hope.
Know that of all the muses that have flowed from my fingers,
You’re the finest that’s ever wrote.

She pauses for reflection
And slows her breath to a stable inhale.
Suddenly, it comes to her attention
That this shadow of darkness is nothing but a paper-thin veil.

She rises boldly like an Amazon warrioress to her feet
And quickly takes aim with her bow.
Defiantly refusing to retreat,
Deciding she’s had enough of fear’s pain and woe.

The battle is not over.
She remains engaged beneath her beautiful skin.
But she’s set on never allowing herself to roll over,
And allowing the shadow of fear to win.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

The Pearl – A Poem

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The Pearl – A Poem

Precious pearl that glimmers somewhere
At the bottom of the sea.
How many shells must I pry open
Before you reveal yourself to me?

Your shell is hard and dirty,
Protecting the smooth gem that resides within.
You may fool the world with your tough exterior
But I know the beauty beneath your skin.

You have not made my search an easy journey,
But I’ll dive to depths unfathomable to hold you.
Oh, you may think you’re not unique or worthy,
But your glimmer has an incomparable hue.

I know you’re scared to be taken from your shell,
But no chest is safer than my heart.
These two hands will protect and never abandon you.
This man is incapable of letting you break and fall apart.

I hold my breath and dive to depths
That others would never dare.
Yes, I risk my death to pull you from the dark,
For to your beauty there is none to compare.

Won’t you come out of hiding
And trust I can do you no wrong?
Won’t you step out of this sea of suffering
And find safety within these arms?

Precious pearl that glimmers somewhere
At the bottom of the sea.
How many shells must I pry open
Before you reveal yourself to me?

-Poem Written by Justin Farley