Writer's Tree

As a writer with each endeavor I grow and my branches spread to encompass the world.

Friday, March 24, 2006

My Mortality

Being in ones 50’s tends to make you much more aware of your mortality, and if that were not enough, I recently lost one of my younger brothers. It is very hard to say good-bye when you feel that they are leaving you much too soon. Adding to the difficulty of saying good-bye to my baby brother was discovering the fact that my parent, though present, is in many ways no longer reachable.

Dementia, Alzheimer’s, or simply old age doesn’t matter. Whatever label you put on it will not make the reality of the situation any easier. We all hope to be sprightly old folks, still present enough to be annoying the hell out of those around us simply because we can, we are old, what can they do to us. So watching someone that you love loose that sense of presence is very difficult, especially if you feel that you have unresolved issues.

This was the case for me at my brother’s funeral. I was very aware of the pain of saying good-bye to Mark but did not expect that I would, in some ways, be saying good-bye to my father as well. So as I usually do, I put pen to paper to help deal with my emotions.

You Needed To Tell

He is gone, my brother, your son,
and though you stand there,
you are gone as well.
I have things to say, but you will hear them
only for a moment,
and they too will be gone.

She is gone, my mother, your wife.
Died long ago, taking with her your guilt
you stand unaccused, unaccepting of your part,
your freedom to stand by and watch
her actions of destruction.

He is gone. I remind you for the third,
no fourth time, and in a moment
you have forgotten.
Is this more painful for you, or for me?

You stand there, small in your large frame,
your weakness giving you sympathy
There are things you needed
to hear,
to know,
to say.
But that moment too, is gone.

You needed to tell me how
...she possessed such power.
You needed to tell me why
...you just stood by and watched.
Just stood by, you
So tall,
So strong,
So weak.
You needed to tell me why,
when you walked away from her,
you walked away from me.

Now I stand looking at you,
loving you, hating you,
knowing, that you too are gone.

You needed to tell me
...how to love
......after you are gone.

Conni Struss Johnson

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Portrait of Melancholy

The poem below is one that I wrote sometime ago but have resurrected for a writing assignment in revision. It was interesting to pick it up and feel that I was at the same emotional place once again. The difference this time is that I have taken action to move my life forward. I have joined classes, groups, and started this blog. The sadness that one feels when a relationship ends or changes is still there but the excitement of knowing that I have grown and the future is bright and hopeful make the melancholy more a sense of reflection, and emotional work than a sense of despair. I feel that the revisions to this poem have made it stronger and more touching, just as the revisions in my life over the past year have made me stronger and more in touch with the world around me. I hope the poem touches you in your moments of melancholy, but know that the rain always stops, the sun always shines again.

A Portrait of My Melancholy

leaden and gray, melds with my heart,
leafs reflecting the sultry green of rain
and the mists clinging to dusk,
speak of a time and place removed from here.

alive with the texture of colors
caresses my skin, enfolding my senses
in the desolate beauty of the moment,
and I am lulled by the song of the rain.

mysterious in costumes of haze
call to my spirit with tales
of clandestine encounters,
wisps of flowing silk glimpsed among the shadows
as she steals through this sensuous landscape,
ever searching, seeking,
held captive by the night.

suddenly bathes her, a silhouette in pearl
standing solo on the breast of the knoll,
painting in the midst of the rainy night
A portrait of my melancholy.

Conni Struss Johnson ©

Friday, March 10, 2006

Time Animated

Sitting at my desk realizing that I was bored to tears, I was not sure that the decision to leave my high stress job several months earlier had been the right choice. The view from my window on 4th Street faces the police station and the occasional bright orange of the prisoners jumpsuits as they were being transferred from one station to another began to grab my eye like a refreshing drink to a dying man. Before long I found myself anxiously awaiting any distraction of color in the midst of a colorless landscape of boredom.

While chatting on the phone with my daughter she suggested that since I had hoped to have more time for writing I should take the opportunity and write something. Below is the result. Let me know what you think.

Time Animated

A slow day at work sets my mind racing,
Seeking distractions I notice little things
Every movement that grabs my attention is a respite,
An attempt to make time move
As fast as the police cars
Screaming past my window while the time
On my computer slowly ticks by;
And I begin to think that I may not

Survive this day, when the sudden bright red
Of a bus grabs my attention and I drink
It in ravenously, and find my eyes darting from
One streak of color to the next, colors that appear
As life lines in a gray desert

Of time, time that threatens to swallow
Me whole, even as I hunger for it to move, it takes on
A stationary malaise that seems to fold
In around me becoming a dense monochromatic landscape,
Where the most ordinary things
Become extraordinary, simply by possessing
Color; then in a moment, I am

Suddenly, brilliantly, aware that the slow tick,
Of time has halted life’s rushing,
Holding me for today at least, here at my window,
Embedded, embraced, enraptured.

Conni Struss Johnson ©

Thursday, March 09, 2006

50, Female & Fabulous

One of the things with which a woman of fifty-something must deal is societies discomfort with the aging process. We are constantly bombarded with the idea that we must fight the changing image of a woman that has lived longer than 30 or so years.

I was recently struck by a new commercial for a fast food chain that used Joan Rivers as the spokesperson, it was not in reality Joan but a much older woman that had not had any plastic enhancements. The catch line was that like the chicken used in their sandwiches, she had chosen to go natural. She had all the wrinkles and natural earmarks of a woman her age. The conclusion: natural only works for chickens.

I find this very offensive since I have no intention of changing my looks and would like society to stop harassing me for choosing to accept the character in which living a long and successful life clothes me. Many of the lines on our faces are the result of years of enjoying life, why should I be unhappy with the "laugh lines" and "crows feet", the impressions left by fond memories of smiling with the ones that I love.

Antiques are only valuable if they are left intact. The natural wood, the nicks and scatches, all the wear and tear clearly visable. We take new furniture and beat it up to make it appear worn, to possess the beauty of age, yet we want women to buff and grind and cut away any resemblence of the natural evolution of our bodies.

I have worked my way through many ups and downs to become the woman that I am, and I encourage my children to accept and embrace who they are and what they believe in. I will not be told that the vessel I wear is not acceptable. It is a tribute to my journey and I will wear it proudly. I am becoming a beautiful and valuable antique and any alterations would only lessen my value.

When I leave, I will leave authentic!


Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Welcome to my blog!

Thus begins a new adventure for me. An opportunity to put my writing out into the world. I have been writing all of my life but have just recently begun to identify myself as a "writer". This blog is about a journey, as a writer, a woman, a mother, a human being.

Many people have talked for years about the idea of the empty nest and the sense of dispair that accompanies these monumental moments in one's life. I am on the edge of my journey into the empty nest and find myself embracing a sense of excitement and adventure as I plunge into this new chapter. The freedom to explore life for the first time in many years without the responsibility of other humans that depend on me for their survival.

Each day I discover something new about who I am, what it means to be a woman at this age and often confronted by the preconcieved ideas that society would have us swallow whole without first deciding if they are acceptable to us. I have chosen to toss those ideas and notions aside and embrace this with open arms.

It will be a time of discovery and I hope that some of you will take the journey with me as I share my writing and my discoveries with you. If you find something that touches you or helps you along the way my desire for sharing will have been worth the risk.

Please feel free to share with me your writing, your struggles, your adventures and as we climb those obstacles that society has chosen to tell us are insurmountable we will hold one another up on our journeys to the summit of our chosen mountains!

I hope you enjoy traveling with me.


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