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JoelJosol

Inside These Walls

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JoelJosol

Inside These Walls
by Regino Joel B. Josol

If all I see were walls every day, the little window
where the guard peeps to see if I am still sane
before he serves my meal, I will give him a good look
and make him wonder if I am going to bite his hand.

An experiment failed in England in 1951 to keep the sanity
of a few young men for some weeks inside these walls
because they wanted out before the first week ended,
disoriented from these walls.

The skill is in my mind, what is in it, and who I talk to
every day and night. I look at these walls and ceiling
when I raise up my eyes to re-charge my brain
while my knees are on the floor.

I do mental drills every day just like a soldier would,
inventing characters who I engage with in long talks,
positioning them in every wall. Then, I would tap deep things
from the deep recesses of my brain.

What my enemies miscalculated is the depth of that store,
how many years I pumped the knowledge that powers
eternal life in me in the sea of connections in my head.
I lasted 7 years in these walls. O, how deep my repository is!

NOTE: I have been wanting to write a poem for the longest time. I thought I already had run dry for something that I can feel passionate about. Then, the lockdown and the COVID-19 came. After one month of Enhanced Community Quarantine going for another month, I was finally able to write something that was partly inspired by it and partly inspired by another character, Harold King from England. I hope you guys welcome me still.

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"Words are not things, and yet they are not non-things either." - Ann Lauterbach

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Tinker

Hey Joel,  I was so excited to see your post.    I am so happy to see you back.  I've always loved the lyrical fluidity of your work.   You may not have written for a while but you certainly didn't lose your ability to make music with your words.   This was not only pleasing to the ear but a powerful story of interest.  

29 minutes ago, JoelJosol said:

I look at these walls and ceiling
when I raise up my eyes to re-charge my brain
while my knees are on the floor.

These words are concrete and uplifting.  So much is said here.  

I hope all has been well with you, I miss your beautiful love poems.  Now following the link to your Facebook page, I see your lovely inspiration.  We need more of those.

~~Judi


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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JoelJosol

Thanks Judi for reading the piece. It is non-dramatic way of articulating the power of prayer when isolated as in the quarantine and lockdowns at the moment. I hope that you are also well under this pandemic.

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"Words are not things, and yet they are not non-things either." - Ann Lauterbach

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A. Baez

Joel, I found this an arresting (no pun intended) and deeply moving piece. You've packed this poem with specifics of emotion, setting, and circumstance that give it a sense of tangibility and immediacy, while gracefully sidestepping all sorts of clichés that can so easily arise in representations of imprisonment. I've always had a strange fascination with various acute trials suffered by man, including incarceration, so your convincing, intriguing portrayal of this experience gripped me--particularly, the psychological perspective in which this whole poem is firmly rooted. This perspective has always seemed to me the most important and real. Your poem makes me feel as if I am the narrator, going through everything he is--not at all an easy feat for a poet, especially if he is mainly drawing from imagination for his inspiration. This is the first line that really knocked me between the eyes:

Quote

I will give him a good look
and make him wonder if I am going to bite his hand.

Wow!

Your next stanza continues in a most unexpected, but surprisingly effective, way, shooting us immediately into the broader perspective of a strange but telling anecdote of history:

Quote

An experiment failed in England in 1951 to keep the sanity
of a few young men for some weeks inside these walls
because they wanted out before the first week ended,
disoriented from these walls.

What an ingenious way to "show, not tell"!

Quote

The skill is in my mind, what is in it, and who I talk to
every day and night.

This really rings true; when under duress seemingly against the whole world, a survivor invariably turns within, coming to rely heavily on ongoing "strategy sessions" of the mind.

Quote

look at these walls and ceiling
when I raise up my eyes to re-charge my brain
while my knees are on the floor.

...and, if one is lucky, one realizes, too, that there is an even stronger place that one can turn.

Quote

do mental drills every day just like a soldier would,
inventing characters who I engage with in long talks,
positioning them in every wall. Then, I would tap deep things
from the deep recesses of my brain.

This is so easy to feel, so easy to imagine for me, probably because of years I spent trapped at a demented, abusive boarding school. I had to spend a lot of time doing mental drills like that to try to keep my sanity and gain and maintain some sense of positive focus and direction. "Positioning them in every wall" is such a vivid image! And I love the "tap deep things...", too. Again, it rings true.

Quote

What my enemies miscalculated is the depth of that store,
how many years I pumped the knowledge that powers
eternal life in me in the sea of connections in my head.
I lasted 7 years in these walls. O, how deep my repository is!

Oh, wow, yes! This is wonderful. The first line alone is a knockout, but you continue with overwhelming power through to a ringing conclusion. Eternal life--you can't get more triumphant than that! I just love the abiding, unrelenting inner strength portrayed here. "The sea of connections in my head" is such an intriguing concept, leading me to wonder, in a good way, whether these might be the internalized connections with supportive people who are now elsewhere, or perhaps simply the connections of reason and intuition that lead to a liberating understanding. The defiance of the last line is haunting and the final exclamation drives home with its affirmation of an unbeatable yet abstract strength that comes not from brute force, but from deep wells.

Just an amazing piece; I'm so glad you are joining us again and I look forward to commenting on your other two recent poems, which are also excellent.

 

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JoelJosol

Thank you for walking through the poem, A. Baez.  I was trying to crystallize the experience of one man who literally went through it, to be read by people who have temporarily locked themselves up at home because of COVID-19. I am glad that it came out authentic as you are able to relate with the images it created in our minds.

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"Words are not things, and yet they are not non-things either." - Ann Lauterbach

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A. Baez

Did you have a specific man in mind? I'm not locked up at home by coronavirus myself, but I can definitely relate to this poem; I think its significance extends far beyond our current situation. Nonetheless, the poem certainly puts the lockdown in an interesting perspective.

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dr_con

JJ! Good to see you and your work again! Loved the crystalline feeling of isolation in this piece. Solid well placed iamges.

 

Many Thanks J


Gate(less.thumb.png.dc23b19d2478d37a9f6fcdc563973026.pnghttps://conjurd.substack.com/welcome Come on over and check out my poetry substack y'all;-)

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JoelJosol

Hi Dr_Con, thanks for walking through the experience of isolation.


"Words are not things, and yet they are not non-things either." - Ann Lauterbach

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