Wednesday, October 27, 2010

more than trees

"five plus seven"

"what do i do with the one?"

he sits, eight year old body wrapped in the steel of his chair, scratching at nubs, where legs once lived. he screams the answers at me, rustling fading leaves from where they fell among the discarded 40 oz. brown bottles and food wrappers. being outside calms him, not that he gets to do it often.

a little boy rounds the corner of one building, dogs nipping at his feet, boys yelling, "get that nigga!"

knocking him to the ground, they fist to face, fist to back, stomp, kick, until he cries. seven on one, they beat him down, letting him know his place. tears on his face, tears on the ground. "now ya unastan, how ta stay down."

finished they let the broken boy rise, he punches another, and off they run chasing that one, playing 'gang banger'.

it's all the rave here in section 8.

my boy, he laughs, waving his one good arm after them. homework, ain't happening today.

through the grass we roll, to a quiet corner by the chain link fence, set to keep monsters out. i brought a shovel today, not to tunnel out but to redeem. clearing a space, he pushes and shoves, i help him leverage, turning earth, cracking the surface.

smearing a bit off dirt on his cheek he laughs again, melody.

handing him a small tree, he runs his fingers through the ball of dirt loosening the roots, speckling his legs in soil, letting creation do its work. i slip it into the hollow we created, filling in. then sit and watch it take its first stretch.

"will it grow?" he asks.

"just like you buddy. just like you."


he knows its more hope than promise & we plant more than trees, in the last pink rays of an autumn sun.


written for Imperfect Prose

and One Shot Wednesday is still going on, so write a poem & link up.

103 comments:

Steven Anthony said...

This spoke volumes to me...so many things it brings to mind...emotions, feelings...Only we can make the change my friend...perfectly done;)

Mona said...

Ah! It's fun planting trees. We planted 50 shrubs of roses in my sister's garden in LA last year!

I love playing with dirt ( read Earth)

Tabor said...

How does someone always turn to the bright, right side after living like that. It is a wonder we are all not gang bangers.

Pauline said...

your words are like little feet that run toward understanding and compassion

Fireblossom said...

That's a "game"??? Wow.

Such a contrast between the nurturing of the life of a tree, and the stupid violence around.

TechnoBabe said...

Watching life as it happens and then watching something grow, or at least hope it grows.

Nancy said...

So much ugliness, so much beauty together here in this post. May that tree, planted by streams of living water, take root and grow tall and strong, bearing witness in that one small corner of creation that there is redemption.

Ostriches Look Funny said...

This is an honest, raw post. It is upsetting, and yet, beautiful. Tense.

Life is so full of tension.
I pray for a different world, one with more trees and less violence.

Myrna R. said...

Your poem depicts such pain, yet hope. This is life, huh? Piercing the senses your words go to the heart.

(Today, I'm suffering, suffering - from bloggers block. Can't bring up anything for one shot poetry. But I'll just read.)

DJan said...

I can't say anything that speaks better to this piece than has already been said by previous commenters. But I do want to say thank you for this...

ELK said...

i am here to let you know this touched me . beauty and ugly together

Leslie said...

What ELK said. And this:

"he knows its more hope than promise & we plant more than trees, in the last pink rays of an autumn sun."

Hopeful, beautiful.

Cinner said...

Less violence, more hope.smiles

sage said...

it's a good think for the young to plant trees. nice emotions captured here

Shell said...

"...letting creation do its work. i slip it into the hollow we created, filling in. then sit and watch it take its first stretch."

So love this imagery.

Titanium said...

Perhaps the tree will grow the limbs he longs for and in time, nurture the soul of the man he will become. There is so much power in the actions of one individual- for good or for ill.

(leans on her shovel, contemplating)

Linda said...

Brian - this is so tender, so heart-wrenching. I am so thankful that there is always hope - even in the midst of so much that would deny it.
You are doing God's work!

william said...

packed with plenty of emotions mate..good write :)

Mama Zen said...

God, this is sad.

Hope said...

isn't that the raw truth. Beautifully written!
thank you

Boom Boom Larew said...

Some people are blessed with being able to find the beauty amongst heartache and squalor.

Fragrant Liar said...

Brian, well done. The contrasts were heartbreaking. Make something grow and nurture it or tear it down and spit on it.

Bullying is really on my mind lately, and I can't stand it. I hope the more we talk about it, the more awareness we bring to it and how it's permeating every aspect of our lives now, from politics to elementary school.

B. Meandering said...

The clipped bluntness of it unsettled me yet drew me in. Such powerful imageries creating emotions and thoughts in us that need to be there to make us do our part to 'grow the tree and the child'--awesome writing.

The Retired One said...

Thank you for helping him plant HOPE.

elizabeth said...

Every time I come here to your place I am left wondering what is your real life experience and what is your imaginative writing and it's all blended wonderfulness!
Elizabeth
http://www.justfollowingjesus.com

Cindybrown said...

I work in Special Education and recently had a 17 yr old boy enrolled in my classroom. May of 2009 he was in a gang, he was shot in the head, it effected the left side of his body and he is now in a wheelchair. He has some brain damage but is still very intelligent and he will tell you getting shot has probably saved his life. This post just really brought this home for me. Wonderful as always Brian!

CM said...

Oh how I hope his tree grows...but I highly doubt it in that environment.

What a contrast, your personal life compared to your professional life. I have the same dilemma. Such harsh contrasts and there's only so much we can do.

Good for you for having such a heart and being willing to help. I'm sure you mean the world to that little boy. I wish there was more people that could reach out, be patient, and give these children the attention and mentoring they need.

One child at a time...

Brian Miller said...

this is all too real...the counseling i have been doing takes me to places that i never dreamed i would go...the gang banger game is for real...we were working on focus when they spilled around the corner...and just last night be planted a tree together and it was amzing...

Betsy said...

haven't you written about this little guy before? He tugs on my heartstrings.

Vodka Logic said...

The "new" cops and robbers.. sad

Kate Hanley said...

It's stories like this that show me how people can live a life of misery or subjugation and still be full of hope. It reminds me how art can teach us. Thanks.

Beedeebabee said...

Brian, this was so touching. Not only are your words beautiful, but so is your heart. :)

Bernie said...

How you take real life and incorporate it into your stories and poems is amazing Brian but I sure don't like "gang banger" seems so unfair seven on one.
........:-) Hugs

Liza said...

"being outside calms him, not that he gets to do it often."
that made me sad.

"will it grow?" he asks.
I can hear his little voice. So sweet.

Melissa said...

reminds me of our neighborhood. it's so hard for them to see that they can grow...they can be that one that rises out from the muck and mire. thankful that he has you there. you don't know the world of difference that little bit of time makes to him.

Bonnie said...

you certainly were planting more than trees!! such an experience surely instills feelings of esteem, competence, confidence, love of the earth, and trust in a caring human being. above all, he gets to see himself and the world through your eyes.

Brian, will you marry me? oooops forgot ... i'm already married ...

Brian Miller said...

it would never work anyway bonnie...we'd probably argue on what to fix first...in a very zen like fashion...lol.

life or something like it said...

very nice! Tho I am curious what your line of work is.

AmyLK said...

Very descriptive. Lovely to nurture nature.

Slamdunk said...

Vivid descriptions Brian. My patrol zone covered many Section 8s and to say that kids faced life challenges was a mild understatement.

JH said...

you're very courageous to work in an environment so dangerous. The poem was encouraging as an ice cream sundae in the middle of July. However, danger is everywhere come to think about it. nice~~~

TALON said...

The juxtaposition of life and death...powerful, Brian.

kkrige said...

lessons like that help us all grow.

FYI: minor typo- you had the word "off" vs "of" when wiping his cheek.

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

More hope than promise.

Raw and beautiful.

(And I know very little about your life, but you may enjoy the read Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle.)

ladyfi said...

Sad and tender.. and yes, I do see hope and promise too.

Melissa Campbell said...

Bullying is becoming a huge issue everywhere, even in our small community, with kids checking themselves out because they see no way out. Your story makes me want to weep, and yet the hope that comes with planting trees...somehow we need to help these kids believe there is a reason for their being here, and there is hope, even love, if they will but persevere. Again, thanks, Brian, for touching deep.

KB said...

A touchijng post. Thanks for sharing.

adeeyoyo said...

Children can be so cruel, sometimes without realising it... Hope they leave it behind as they grow up!

Valerie said...

Too much cruelty and violence in today's world. I felt quite disturbed reading the start of this ... so glad it ended on a happy note.

Zuzana said...

The beauty of something as wonderful, strong yet delicate as a tree and the way it will grow, bringing hopes of a better and brighter future for those that are less privileged. You combine pain and beauty in a poignant way...
Have a lovely day dear Brian,
xo

tony said...

Safe On The Right Side Of The Fence.
i say a prayer for those without roots.

Gabriela Abalo said...

hope is sometimes all we have to keep us going.

Very touching post, thanks for sharing.

have a great day

slommler said...

So much going on here! But what speaks to me is "differences" and what they do to others. What they do to the individual! Race...handicaps...all tend to separate...set aside...make one isolated. So sad! And violence...I just never understood why??!!
Hugs
SueAnn

hedgewitch said...

A difficult poem, both to read and comment on without sounding superficial. The images will stay with me a long time, so the poem does it's job, and with great grace. It's easy to make people feel, much harder to make them think.

Austin said...

Dang it Brian, sometimes you reminds me of the joys and terrors of DSS when I was there. I remember both fondly and frightfully those days. Great write

Lorraine said...

beautiful...so rewarding, planting trees, and a smile

Jill said...

You have written about this boy before...he is endeared to me...not only his physical and emotional state but his environment...SO VERY HARSH.

What is it about dirt that is so healing? We have to have hope.

LauraX said...

Oh Brian,
I'm so glad I had the energy to stop by and read this this morning. NOW I AM HUMBLED!

YOU are one beautiful Soul...and you too have the ability to heal and love and open the hearts of others through your words, your deeds, your presence.

gentle steps dear man

David N. said...

Lovely, Brian. That was powerful.

the walking man said...

We become what we leave behind.

drybottomgirl said...

Laughter, tears, hurt, and hope, can we really have the realm of emotions without all of them being together. You are a blessing to all your work with....bless you!

Gaston Studio said...

What a generous man you are Brian, to share your more normal life with these kids and to help them plant Hope. A fantastic example!

deb said...

I love you and your posts.

Jessie said...

powerful. like watching a tense game of tennis--in the war of bad vs good, ugly vs beautiful...

warm smiles,

annell said...

A loving write. "More hope than promise." Thanks

Boonie S said...

You’ve cast a broad brush here. Most interesting.

All the best, Boonie

emily wierenga said...

oh--this gave me eyes into the kingdom of God. i have chills and tears. my favorite line: he laughs again, melody. you do such good work, brian, here on your post, and out there, in the world. don't stop.

Dianne said...

counting trees, looking close at the budding leaves, seeing a boy grow tall broad shoulders that reach over my head..... I see it continues in my garden.

nice "showing" instead of "telling"

tree man,
Di

Lori said...

Oh Brian this is sad yet so beautiful. As always your words grab at my heart and mind. Thank you. XX Happy Thursday. XX

Nancy said...

You never fail to make me think and especially - feel. Your writing evokes emotion and compassion. What a gift, Brian!

Birdie said...

in deed so much 'more than trees' ... my heart is filled up with gratitude for the boy has you ... and you have him maybe as well ... it's all in one ... hope, love, compassion, empathy and more ... I'm was so happy to read your post Brian!

brokenpenwriter said...

Brian, this was incredible!! Solid work, so realistic, I was there in the first sentence and stayed with you right to the end. An intriguing, strange, cruel world, yet you didn't judge it - much the way children accept their environment without judgment or question - it just is. Your writing as craft is superb here - no wasted words, phrases apt, revealing with just enough imagery. I'm stunned yet captured by the cruelty and innocense. Well Done!

Lisa notes... said...

"he knows its more hope than promise & we plant more than trees, in the last pink rays of an autumn sun."

I'm always amazed at how much meaning you cram into such few words. Lovely.

JStar said...

Such a reality here Brian...I live it everyday...Yea, I see we were both on the same page...Mine wasnt planned in the least...Til the gun shots shattered my sleep...

Great imagery here...But I can FEEL it because I know all too well these realities...This has that glitter of hope in the end...Something we dont see too often around my way...

Wandering On Purpose said...

I feel when I read your writing I am transported directly to the scene you describe, and I am blessed and challenged on the journey.

Claudia said...

sure you planted more than trees with your little flyer...and also sure they will grow..both

ana said...

Lots of brokenness here and yet hope endures.

gospelwriter said...

you can make a story out of anything, complete with lesson for the learning... loved this

Madame DeFarge said...

I am much moved by this post. It is so touching in its truthfulness and insight. The economy of words and yet it speaks volumes.

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

absolutely killer, Brian...:)

blueviolet said...

I hope you don't get mad at me but when I read that word I couldn't continue reading.

She Writes said...

Brian, I hope this is true of you in his life.

JeffScape said...

That is a rather disturbing game they're playing.

Daniel said...

It's like your job is to help them forget about the deep wounds and to move past their hurts by helping them to look forward and see beauty and hope. Great work.

Sophia said...

"will it grow?" he asks --- just like you buddy. just like you."

Those words along melted my heart. You ARE a superhero to many...

Tracy said...

Another perfect Imperfect!

Janis@Open My Ears Lord said...

So deep and thought provoking about real life. So many hurting--the little ones. I see the surface of it in my position as a special ed TA.
May the Lord use you to bring His peace to the hurt ones.

Thank you for visiting. Hope you make that dish for your family.

Blessings,
Janis

Harnett-Hargrove said...

It is rather upsetting when something violent is happening on the other side of the screen, and you know it's real life. -J

Marla said...

Brian, you are an amazing writer and an equally amazing human being.

julie said...

Powerful. I find myself wanting to know more about this little boy and his story. I hope he grows tall and strong.

April said...

Such a great job with the dialogue...syntax of speech...and the feeling of despair alongside hope.

Also, wanted to let you know, that I'm starting a linky-type-thing on Fridays called: If you have the time: short story share...but you can share essays, too. You can see my blog for details if you are interested, or point it to others who think might be. Thanks!

Nimue said...

i love your posts ! always ! giving me an understanding what i must stand for always !

Love the way it flows...

Cheryl said...

Sometimes it's hard to stop by. My heart breaks for him and hope seeps in through the cracks.

Tom said...

monsterous. har

Candie Bracci said...

Such beautiful words!

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Hi! Brian...
This post is very well-written and the words that I conjure up in my...mind-eye after reading your poem are: very thought-provoking, very sad, mean-spirited, and very
hopeful too!
Thanks, for sharing!
DeeDee ;-D

Anonymous said...

very touching story brian. hope is what makes the world beautiful.

trisha
mydomainpvt.wordpress.com

gayle said...

This is so sad!!

Mmm said...

Anotheri poignant post, Brian. so well written indeed. I really like this one. Trees are pictures of hope aren't they?

Mrs4444 said...

You're brilliant. This is really good.

kaykuala said...

Reminiscent of boyhood days. Ugly sometimes. Good write.

Syd said...

I think that trees are magical, no matter what they have witnessed. And many have witnessed a lot of things including real horrors. I wonder if they sense that?

Goofball said...

how beautiful

I hope they both get the space to grow to their full potential