Blessed Burden

Posted: April 6, 2010 in Poetry

Back from a long weekend of busy excitement. Friends Lucas and Amanda were in town for the L5R Kotei (regional tournament). That made me miss the final qualifying slam of the Capital Slam season, so if you haven’t heard about who made it in, here goes:

Open Secret
Chris Tse
Brad Morden
Loh El
Brandon Wint
John Akpata
Sean O’Gorman

The missing name is Truth Is…, who we are waiting to hear from. DLightful is scheduled to be the Sacrificial Poet as the first runner up.

I finished the season in 8th, but since I will be the slammaster for the festival this year, I removed myself from consideration.


CONTEXT: November, 2008

Here is a poem I wrote during the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Calgary. I wrote two pieces while I was there. This one deals with some of the amazing things that have grown out of my time as a poet.

Rather than reiterate it all, let me link to this Live Journal post. Make sure you read the comment as well.

Nadine’s comment inspired me to write that poem… and this is it.

In that blog post I mentioned Rick Kwissa (Emily’s grandfather). Since then he has written a book of short stories and he included me in the dedication as one of his inspirations to write. (I’ll just drop in another LJ post that explains how THAT impacted me.)

I have never been more proud.

Side note: I had some concern after I finished this poem that I come across as arrogant. Do you see that? Let me know!

    Blessed Burden

Dedicated to Rick Kwissa, Nadine Thornhill, and Komi Olafimihan – proof that inspiration goes both ways

I am humbled and frightened,
Honoured and enlightened.
I feel a huge weight on my shoulders
Yet it makes me inexpressibly happy.

Why write the wry fight,
Scribbling missives
Armed like missiles
Aimed straight back at myself.

Poetry as therapy
A rejection of entropy
Funnelling of energy
Wondering aloud
Wandering around
Spraying shrapnel
From an explosion of
Thoughts and spots fought
Or not – a lot bought
And caught, sought and got
Words hot or not
Wrought from iron or glass
Steady or fast
Looking past or forward
But still pointing toward
The one firing the rounds

Yet one after another
A shot goes astray
Like a Lee Harvey magic bullet
Curving like a Wanted blast
Ricochet ratchet from
Ear to ear, year to year
Until it nudges a synapse
Or neuron or spinning neutron
Causing the only true change –
Change in a brain.

Like a ‘yes we can’
From a nuclear Obama
Leaving a landscape forever
Changed – one mind at a time

But what a shock to truly
Learn of change as a final
Domino, following the chain
Back to the flow of words
Following me around like a cloud

Suddenly there is pressure
Unknown before
As entertainment and introspection
Turn into
Accidental proslytization
When I am told how words
Changed a life

Then the stories fall into place
I learn that it was not an
Isolated case.
I hear of a man who
Reconsidered his life path
Based on a series of lines
Uttered by my need to write,
Not to define
A way of life.

And then drawing tears
And then quelling fears
As a friend finds inspiration
And no other accolade
Or praise
Can compare.

I met a young man
Trying to plan
His next step on
The journey we all take
Choosing between forest and lake
To use another’s phrase.
He decided the choice for he
Was to ‘be all that he could be’
As long as ‘all he could be’ was
To be forced into a box,
Churned up, processed and

Then, on a Halifax street corner,
He told me he heard my words
The night before
And learned that the Navy
Was not the life for he.

One less follower of the gun?
Forget scores from any slam,
Now I felt as if I had really won.

I never looked to
Change the world,
Only mine.
I never tried to
Change a mind,
Only mine.

I learned to take care
As once words are released
They are mine no more,
Leaving craters from mortars
Fired from no war.

I am humbled and frightened,
Honoured and enlightened.
I feel a huge weight on my shoulders
That I bear willingly.

I am humbled and frightened,
Honoured and enlightened,
With a weight on my shoulders
That makes my heart feel light.


Next is the other poem I wrote at CFSW ’08.

  1. nadinethornhill says:

    Rusty, this poem is incredible! I’m proud and honoured to have been a small, inadvertent part of its inspiration.

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