Essay from Michael Robinson

Michael Robinson (right) and fellow contributor Joan Beebe

There’s a feeling in the nursing home unlike being on a mental ward; however, the feeling of being alone is present. My one friend can speak very clearly when her daughters come to visit. The rest of the time she sits there crying and her words are unintelligible. If you pass by her she will reach out to you. It’s easy to become indifferent to her. Sitting there with her as she cries and reaches out after her daughter leaves. I had that same kind of feeling on the many mental wards I have been in from 1985 thru 2015. You have lost all the routines of having your family and friends as  they visit and leaves you in the presence of strangers. Strangers that come in all different mindsets and compassion for those they watch.

The day begins with maybe someone washing and dressing you. Some like my friend eats in her room for breakfast she is then put in front of the nurses station. She fiddles with her foot rest trying to free herself. She continues to cry and make this anxious murmur. Sometimes a staff member will come by and hug her for a brief moment or ask her whats wrong? I suppose that feel that they have to do that because  of my presence. She looks at me with wet eyes and runny nose which no one seems notice. I get something for her to wipe her nose. She had pulled her shirt up exposing her breast to wipe her nose. Before I came and sat with her they ignored her, not even asking her if she wanted to be changed. So, she sat there for hours in wet undergarments. Tonight I move my wheelchair on the other-side of her. There was a puddle of urine. This night it was clear to me that she is suffering and stuck in a world that she does not belong.

It was like that for me in those mental wards. The saddest memories   I have is being locked in the bed to restraints and wetting myself when no one came to assist me. Sitting watching her daughters leave say ” I have to go grocery shopping.” Sometimes it’s better to not come and leave and come and leave. I’m sensitive to the coming and goings of those that cared for me doing those times on the psych unit. They had no idea of the kind of day I was having. Someone watching me from six to eight feet away. I was on one on one which is suicide watch because I was remembering all the tragic experiences in my life. Now my friend may be remembering all the good things that she had experienced with her family. You have nothing but time to recall you entire life. “The good, the bad, and the ugly.” Living long enough to understand that this place and these people will be the last relationship, Sleeping in a shared room with a television as you friend. If you don’t watch television then you watch the movies in your mind and people continue to come and go. Now I’m one that come in her life and now is leaving. She told me she would miss me with tears in her eyes, a runny nose and urine on the floor from the thoughts of being left alone in this place. I can envision her sitting in the hall eating her dinner alone with tears and runny nose and nothing but her shirt  to wipe her nose.

She has become my mother in the nearly three weeks. Three walks of roaming the halls and watching everyone from nurses, administers, cleaners and other patients. It occur es to me that many of the patients will will pass away in this place with hospice waiting in the wings. Another stranger as they leave this mortal coil to say goodbye to you. No, I don’t want to say good bye to her. I will think of her for a long time and then she will become a sad memory  but I will always remember those eyes with the tears saying “I love you and thank you!”

Essay from Michael Robinson

The Wall

Michael Robinson (right) and fellow contributor Joan Beebe

Sitting at the nurses station watching as time passes with no where to go. Sitting there watching as the nurses passes out medications to others then me. Pills after pills and blood pressure monitors inflating and deflating with a ding to tell them your pressure is high and then there’s more pills for that. Watching other patients crying and calling for their mothers as themselves are grandmothers and great grandmothers. Reaching in the air as if something is there for some. Quietly they sit hour after hour while trying to communicate to someone to touch someone to know that they are still a part of the world. Others, sit in their wheelchairs moving along the railing slowly they move down the hall. One foot in front of the other they too are watching as others with different physical limitations. Some have had strokes while others their bodies are just tired after a life of many years. In their 70s, 80s, and some as old as 100 years old. Looking not in the air they are moving towards something. Something that inspires them to keep going no matter what the outward conditions or the frailness of their bodies.

I also sit at the wall waiting and watching listening to the blood pressure monitor beep on my arm. swallowing pill after pill while thinking what makes me continue a sometimes difficult life. A life of suicidal thoughts that have long been forgot. A life with disappointments and turmoil and that too has been forgot. All that seems to be left is the wall at the nurses station. Still, there’s something unique about the wall. It as if nothing is taken for granted nothing is what it seems to be as patient after patient deal with their own reality of life. A life that has come to them sitting at the wall or walking with walkers or wheelchairs as the gasp the railings with one foot in foot of the other. Life has come to feel like it has a different meaning. Time seems to move moment by moment. Each moment is not taken for granted. Life is something to be continued as something to be understood not avoided. Avoided like I have done for 60 years sitting there looking into the air gasping at life.

Life now have meaning some kind of purpose sitting at the wall moving down the hall in the wheelchair or walker. God seems to be in the midst of it all. Seeing something that is not seen by the physical eye. The body isn’t the reality of life or the finality. There seems to be something that allows one to continue in this situation. Wearing briefs, being struck in a wheelchair for long hours of the day gasping at the air and calling for mother. Time seems to mean something to not be avoided. Death is near but somehow life seems to be more meaningful. There’s an understanding of life sitting at the wall. One does not complain about life unfairness only that they are in the wheel chair trying to stand and being told not too so for hour after hour with nothing to do but gasp at the air for something. Life has a different meaning sitting at the wall not being able to communicate the use to be no matter what it was good, bad, difficult, or tragic.  to life that one does not seem to understand in their younger years of complaining about the unfairness of life. No voice can be heard from many of the patients, while other patients cry and mumble in an a useless attempt to communicate.

God what has been my purpose? I have to ask sitting at the wall. Finally, I feel that I understand life and there’s a feeling of resolve about it all. A resolve for the minutes that turned into hours and hours in days and days into months and finally  into years. Before you know it you sitting at the wall at the nurses station crying calling for mother and wearing briefs and being feed by someone. Perhaps, it’s not age that have brought to this place. Maybe it was a mini stroke like the one I had. My ability to feed myself and clean myself returned; however, I have no promise that I too will have to sit and watch minutes turn into hours. Hoping and wishing for the clock to slow down unlike in my younger years when I wanted the day to end. Now sitting here I have all the time in the world and nothing to do but watch the nurses and other patients gasp at the air waiting for my turn to gasp at something that isn’t there.

Poem from Michael Robinson

The Mud


The mud inches its way towards,

My wife and daughter,

I hold them ever so tight.


My tears inches there way down my cheek,

My wife tears creep down my forearm,

And my daughter asks,

Why father.


It’s the rainy season,

It’s the pain season,

It’s the season of heartache.


The cardboard box,

Disintegrates into more pieces,

Why my daughter asks.


My tears mix with the mud,

My wife sinks further into the mud,

“Why my daughter asks.



I hold what’s left of my family,

Close to my heart and I ask,




Michael “Fireeyes” Robinson

Essay from Michael Robinson

Sylvia Plath visits me in 93

Watching you in your nakedness is satisfaction shared Between my mind and your femininity.

The silhouette of your body, the moon drowns your skin. Your Round breast with hard nipples I yearn to hold gently in my palms. Your shinning hair fell around your fair skin, outlining your shoulders in the shadows of a desire for an understanding love, I stretch out to embrace you between the fragmented air of your being. As I nestle closer to you by my dark fears of love,

Unhappily I will fall asleep in your embrace alone, my nightmares being touched by your wet lips, reaching for my brown soul; god that another demon who reaches for my soul, calling me home, it’s a whisper my soul recognizes when I lie next to a woman; Am I home between your breast? God will not reach me this night, for another demon will arise in my dreams. Torturing me in that corner of my childhood mind, cigarette burns, the flame from the stove touching my skin from a distance; no tears this night, only screams, my screams, your softness, your smooth softness and the cold blowing wind between my legs. Am I in the middle of Hell? Could this be Heaven? No, it’s neither hell nor heaven but the in-between of death and life, never to be amused by your sweet tasting sweat as my cold fingers run along your pubic hair.

It’s then-between that calls me to my death of life, dancing naked in the pan of blood memories, no not your blood, my blood casts aside your dreams of saving me. I will be saved in the dirt of my thoughts and the clinging hair between you and me.

Is this reality or a mad dream? Madding dreams on the psyche ward while strapped to the bed, the camera overhead and me underneath the straps within a tortured mind screaming; you could be those straps against my flesh, how do I know for sure? Nothing has been real since the body hanging from that rope above the dining room table in my neighborhood; he could not cry out as I do in the night.

Blood crawling down the elevator walls for months. I’m expecting pieces of the body to come down the wall after the crawling blood, it’s madding I know but flesh does come to pieces sometimes; when the silver straight razor cuts across the black throat and the red blood comes out of the parted skin; Are you are unaware? Are you aware of this?

While, you sleep, and I dream of death. No intercourse tonight I may not be able to untie myself from these straps of love; Oh what a fiend you are: holding me, touching me in this sensual way; one more drink and I shall sleep and you can hold me, keep me alive while I die lying against that wall, with that .22 caliber gun against my temple at age 8 just like those electrodes from those shock treatments when I was 36. My brain a bowl of oatmeal with glistering chunks of sugar and sour evaporated milk I ate that cold morning before going to elementary school while the icicles melted in the pre-raising sun;

If only my spirit would have a rising like a sun in those gray skies; my Soul would have lived, and you would be real lying next to me; rather than these leather restraints. No more razor blades, no more shoe strings, no escape from the walls of blood and swinging body. The gunfire has creased and so have the yells from babies and screaming adults trying to escape the violence. I would have jumped off the overpass if I believed I would die instantly all broken up and run under by those oncoming cars unable to stop before tossing me up and around in the air like a part of the high wire act with the black tar net finally catching me.

Oh, Sylvia if I could be sure that you are here at this moment with me surrounded by padded walls and strapped down being prepared for a modern-day embalmment, I would go with you and leave this divide of living death. Please take this warm tear lying on my cheek and leave me to die alone knowing you know me as well as I know you.

Thursday, October 28,29, 2004

Michael Robinson reviews Jamel Gross’ poetry collection A Knight Without His Lovers


Jamel’s poetry is new and refreshing, for he mixes older ideas with several new points of view on love. He has given much efforts and energy into the flow of each poem, which follows a unique pattern. Many of his poems are about the idea of finding and keeping love, and he has a rhythm to each line. Each word flows into the next, with each following a simple, yet unique flow. The themes of love bring expressed clarity to the experience of life, love, and death.

The imagery conveys the emotions of each poem along with themes that ignite one’s own imagination about love. His poems: “I Care 4 You”, “Untitled,” and “My Day Apart,” and “If I Should Lose You” are just a few of my favorites because of the stories they express. I had a hard time choosing these poems out of the collection because starting with ” I Care 4 You” and continuing with all of the following poems, Jamel’s poetry breaks the mold of grammar and still holds the reader’s attention. It’s a jewel worth keeping.

Jamel Gross’ A Knight Without His Lovers is available here. 

Poetry from Michael Robinson

Black Boy I


In the middle of the night,

Forgot all the bad in his life,

Walking into the moon’s light.


A soulful prayer,

At 3AM when all is quiet,

Living in the moon’s delight.




Black Boy II


If you knew the story,

If you felt the pain,

If you loved life,

You would understand,

A Black boy life.



Black Boy III


No more guns,

No more knives,

Nor more razor blades under the sleeve.


No more cocaine in the midnight hour,

No more sins in the dawn of day,

No more psych units.


No more lies,

No more pain,

No more tears.


Black Boy IV


My skin is dark, and my tone is light,

My eyes are bright, and my smile is warm,

My soul is full of God’s light,

Black Boy in the middle of the night.



Black Boy V


You crossed the seas looking for me,

Carrying me away,

Chaining me to the deck.


Look into my eyes,

Look at my back,

With the torn skin from the whip.


Another day of misery,

Keeps me company,

Prays touches my heart,

In the daily sun.

While picking cotton till dusk,

Deliver me from the whip,

I long to be free.



Black Boy VI


I walk into the morning sun,

My skin blackens from the noonday sun.

Mile after mile,

I walk while the tears fall to the ground,

I walk with bare feet,

With lashes on my back.


I walk to my freedom,

Crawling in the mud,

I kneel at the rock and Cry:


Save me from my captures,

Save me from my oppressors,

Save me from my sins.



Black Boy VII


Have you seen my mother?

She was wearing a red dress.


Have you seen my mother?

She was walking down the street.


Have you seen my mother?

She has my eyes.


Have you seen my mother?

She was heading to the Red-light district.


Have you seen my mother?

She was with that man.


Have you seen my mother?

She left me in the rain of my tears.


Michael Robinson (right) and fellow contributor Joan Beebe

Poetry from Michael Robinson



Michael Robinson (right) and fellow contributor Joan Beebe


Remember the flowers singing in the morning showers,

While the yellow finches flew above the clouds,

And the grass was our bed.


Those days were familiar to our souls,

Something that kept our skin soft,

Our hearts fresh.


Nothing compares to those moments,

I now watch the cardinals and think:

How unique our love has become?

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