What Happened To Those Empires That Are Gone?

Do you remember
The great Irish Potato Famine
Of 1845 through 1855?
When 3/4 of a million
Irish died?

Do you know one of the causes?
A fungus.
From Mexico.
That devastated
The Irish potato crops
That the Irish
Were dependent on.

Add in the people that fled
Their home of Ireland
To escape the famine.
And the Irish population
By 25%.

Oh, I know there are many other causes
Of that awful famine.
Like the rules the British
Had imposed
On the Irish Catholics.

But I cannot help but wonder
If the famine would have been the same
Had the Irish not been so dependent
On potatoes.
If the Irish had a broader supply
Of food that they ate.

Do you remember AT&T,
Back in its big days?
When you couldn’t have a phone at all
Unless it had been made
By Bell?
And if you called someone
In another state,
You had to pay long distance.
And everything long distance was
And that was all.

I always wondered
What would happen
In those days,
If AT&T had simply
Turned it’s phone lines off.
And said to the US Government,
“We are not earning enough.
We’ll turn the phones back on
When we make enough money
To make it worth the effort
To keep the phone service

Remember IBM
Back in its glory days.
When the only computer
A company would buy
Was made by IBM?
And then along came
The computers of today.
And look at all the changes
That IBM had to face
Simply to survive
In the world of today.

Remember General Motors?
The champion of the car?
The best selling cars
For decades?
And how the company
Wound up in bankruptcy
A few years ago.

The GM of today
Is very clearly not
The GM
Of 20 years ago.

Look at human history.
The Egyptians,
And Russians.

All big empires.
All now gone.
Only little parts of them

What happened to those empires

Everyone around
Says the exact same thing.
That they grew corrupt.
And evil.
And then they fragmented.
And came apart.
Slowly decaying away.

But what if that’s only part
Of the story of empires?
What if they’re more like
And General Motors?

What if they grow old.
And set in their ways.
And refuse to change.
And refuse to grow.
And refuse to adapt.
To a changing world
Any more?

What happens then,
I wonder?
When everyone
And everything
That’s not the same
Gets pushed away.
Shoved in a corner.
And ignored.

What happens then,
I wonder?
When things change
And all that’s really left
Are those that cannot change.
Those that can’t adapt.
That are set
In their ways.

And I wonder too,
If that’s really got more to do
With what happened
To those empires
That are gone.

May Your Heart Always Be Alive

My God knows.
He sees the broken hearts.
And the wounded souls.
Of everyone.
He knows the truth
That everyone fears.

What do you do
When your heart gets broken?
What do you do
When your soul cries tears
Of pain?

If your heart gets broken,
Do you know
That in time
It will mend?
That the pain
You are in
Is only transient?
That it will fade away?
And do you let your heart
And mend.
So that you can feel

Or do you feel the pain
That your heart is in?
And promise God
That you will never
Hurt like that again?
That the pain
Your heart is in
Is more than you can bear.
And you will never
Take the risk
Of a broken heart

Will you remember
The times that your heart sang?
Will you want your heart
To feel that way again?
As if you could fly
On wings of your own
If you had been granted them?
Or will you only remember
The hurt
And the pain
And the way
That your heart ached
When all was said and done?

Will you keep your heart alive?
So that it can feel again
The joy it felt before?

Will you let your heart
Grow cold.
And slowly start to freeze
As cold as ice,
And hard as stone?

So that you will never hurt
Like you have before?

And in avoiding all the risk
Of having a broken heart
Once more,
Will you accept
That as your heart begins to freeze
As cold as ice,
And hard as stone.
That you will never feel
The joy that you once did.
That the feeling you once had
That you could fly
If only you had wings,
Will be forever

This is why I pray
To God above
That the heart
He blessed me with
Never freezes
Cold as ice,
And hard as stone.

For I wish to feel once more
That I could fly
Through the sky
If only I had wings.

And I know
That my heart will ache
Every now and then.
And my soul
Will cry tears of pain

But I also know
That the pain and tears
Are transient things.
They won’t last forever.
They never have.
They never will.

And I know too
That so long as I can feel
My heart ache
When it needs to.

I can feel the joy
That I once felt.
As if I could fly
If only I had wings.

Disturbed sings these words to “Enough”.

“When you’re out of time
In this lullaby
When your soul is frozen
Is that enough?

When your heart is broken
A thousand times
With every moment
Is that enough?”

May your heart always be alive.
May it never freeze
As cold as ice.
May it never turn
As hard as stone.

Why Can’t People Tell Me What They Mean?

There is a question
That I have been asking
All my life.

Why the heck do so many people
Get so angry at,
Or with me?

What the heck is it about me
That just seems
To upset everyone?

I don’t get it.
I don’t understand it.
At all.

Sometimes it seems to me
That all I have to do
Is breathe,
And in doing so
I tick someone off.

I remember times,
Hundreds of times, at least,
When someone
That I didn’t even know
Walked up to me and said,
“Why are you glaring at me!
Stop it!”

There was the time
A year ago
When some guy
In a restaurant
Got up,
Walked up to me
As I sat at my table
And demanded to know
Why I was staring at him
And his girl friend.

Say what?
I explained to him
I was watching the TV
That was hanging on the wall.
Which was the truth!

Hell, I didn’t even know
That he was there
Until he got right in my face.

I just don’t understand
Why it is
That so very many people
Seem to get so angry
With me.

What the heck is wrong
With so many people
In the world?

Why do they always
React that way
To me?

And while it’s true
That I don’t understand
Why this happens
All the time.
I have learned
That it happens
Just because
We’re different.
Me and them.

And the best that I can guess
Is that I have a knack
For breaking many of the rules
That they live by.

Doesn’t help
That I don’t know those rules
Does it?

Doesn’t help
That no one can explain
All those rules to me
Does it?

Doesn’t help
That the best explanation
That I get
When I ask why someone’s
Mad at me
Has always been,
“You can’t do what you did?”

Now that makes a lot of sense,
Doesn’t it?
If I did something at all,
Then it’s patently obvious
That I can do what I did.
So don’t tell me
That I can’t do something
That I’ve already done.


On very rare occasions,
I have learned,
Very painfully,
And unpleasantly,
With lots of fighting,
And arguing,
And and lost friends,
When I’ve done something
That everyone else thinks
Is inappropriate.

I try to translate the words,
“You can’t do that!”
“You can’t be that way!”
Into something that makes sense.

And that’s usually something like,
“You can do what you did,
But everybody knows
That it gets people upset!
So everybody knows
That you just don’t do
What you did!”

If that’s what people
Really are saying
When they say to me,
“You can’t do that”,
Or “You can’t be that way”,
Why the heck don’t they say so?

Instead of pretending
That I know
Why they’re angry with me
For something
That I said or did.

Why can’t people just tell me
What they really mean?


There has been one single thing
That has bothered me.
About the job
That I once had.
And the way
That it was ended.

For in the job
That I once had
I was not allowed
To even say,
To anyone at all.

I was just flat
Thrown out.

Now, I ask you,
Point blank.
Is that any way at all
To end 29 years
With your employer?
And 13 years
With your customer?

They didn’t even have the guts
To tell me I was banned
Straight to my face.
Oh, no.
They had to tell
The primary contractor.
Who told my company.
And my company then told me.

And then,
They banned all contact
With me.
They didn’t ask.
They simply did.

And they never gave me
Any chance at all
To simply say, “Good-bye.”

It was as if the fear they had
Of telling me
That I was banned
Was still there.
And they were afraid
To even give me the chance
To just say, “Good-bye.”

Perhaps it’s more a case
That they didn’t feel the need
To let me say, “Good-bye.”
That the way I had been removed
From their workplace world
Was their own special way
Of saying, “Good-bye.” to me.

Although, to be honest,
It really wasn’t a, “Good-bye,”
So much as a good swift kick
Right smack in my teeth.

Hell, one of them
Even flat out lied to me.
“Go home.
Get well.
And we’ll see you when your come back.”

Why do people pretend
That things are going to work out well,
When they already know
They won’t?

So today, I spoke with my doctor.
And we talked about
The last few details
Of the job that I once had.
And how those last few details
Were still hurting me.

And my doctor said to me
That I had to find a way
To forgive,
And forget
Those last few things.
So that they would not
Eat away,
At my heart and soul.

And this afternoon,
I finally did
What I’d been putting off.

I wrote a little e-mail note
That I sent
To a very few of them.

And I told them
What I needed to.

I said,
To them.

And I know
As I write these words
That I will never contact
Any of those people
That I used to know.
Ever again.

They’re part of a life
That I used to have.
And they don’t belong
In the life I’m building now.

I simply have to forget them.
And continue to build
The life that I have now.

Wednesday Night At Church

I do not recall the last time
I was as terrified
As I was last night.

I went to Church last night.
The Wednesday night service.
And I had a plan.
One my doctor and I
Had worked out
The last time I’d visited him.

The Wednesday night service,
As I’ve said before,
Has three different parts.
It starts with music,
And with prayer.
Then there is fellowship.
In the fellowship hall.
After which
The service ends
With a Bible study lesson.

Now, I have no trouble
In any way,
During the music
And the prayers.
Or during
The Bible study
That comes last.

But that fellowship
In the fellowship hall
Is a huge problem
For me.

And just one week before
I’d screwed up royally
During that fellowship time.
Had I ever.

That was also the forth time
In a row
That I’d gotten it flat wrong.
So on Friday
I’d talked about
What I was doing wrong
With my doctor.

And my doctor had said to me,
“Get in line.
Get one of the snacks
That they have there.
And get your water.
And then
Go out there
Among the people
Of your church,
And find a chair
That’s not in use.
And just sit down.”

Oh, my stars.
The very thought
Of doing that
Scared me stupid.

I spent that Saturday,
And the days after that,
Trying very hard
To not worry about
The coming Wednesday night.
And that time
Of fellowship.

Last night
Was Wednesday night.
And I went to church.
And I made a lot of changes
In my behavior
In the church.

I have always sat
At the very back.
All by myself.
But not last night.
Last night
I walked right in,
And moved to the middle
Of the place.
And sat right down.

As the result of doing that
I wound up meeting
Several people of the church
That I’d never met before.

You should have seen me
Sitting there
During the music,
And the prayers.
Telling myself
Time and time again,
“Breathe, stupid.
Just breathe.”
For I knew that was the only way
That I would ever
Have a chance
Of remaining
Anything remotely resembling

And then the music
And they prayers
Came to their end.
And away we went
To fellowship.

And I stood there
For a bit,
As I worked my courage up
To go get into line.
And as I did,
The lady that was sitting
Right behind me
Wednesday night
Asked if I was going
To get something to eat.

It seems that was
Just what I needed
To push myself to do
Exactly what I needed to.

And off I went
To get in line
For food.
And as I stood in line
The guy in front of me
Started to talk
To me.

I got my water,
And a cookie,
Oatmeal raisin.
And tried my best
To talk with him.

And I walked up to
A table.
And found an empty chair
And sat right down.
And so did he.
Right next to me.

And we talked about
How hot it was
And how good air conditioning felt
In all the heat.
We spoke too
Of how the air conditioning
In his house had failed.
And been out
For several days.

How in his house
It was even too hot
To cook.
So they’d been eating out.

It was the first time
On a Wednesday night
At fellowship
That I’d done anything
Like that.

And as we all returned
To the sanctuary
For the Bible study lesson,
I realized
That the lady sitting behind me
Was the same lady that sang
The song that touched my hear
On Sunday morning.

So I took another chance,
And said hello to her.

It was a good night for me,
Wednesday night at church.
And it shows so very much
That finally,
I’m getting to my feet
And walking
In this brand new life
That life has given me.

Learning To Walk

[Author’s Note: I wrote these words on Wednesday, 13 December 2000. Nearly 11 years ago. They were originally located here:


I remember watching my daughter
As she learned to walk.
How she wobbled when she first tried,
Precariously balanced on her two tiny feet,
Her head so very far from the ground.

I can remember those first few steps.
Each one taken separately.
One step at a time.
Making sure she had her balance back
Before taking the next step.

I can remember the smile on her face,
And the joy in her eyes,
That she was standing on her own!
That she was walking!
All by herself!

And I can remember
Watching her fall.
That first fall.
Right on her little bottom.

And the look of shock on her face.
That look that said, “What happened?”
That look that said, “Why did I fall?”
As she sat there
On the floor.

And I remember watching her
As she slowly got to her knees,
And then stood up once more.
Knowing this time she could fall.
Knowing that falling hurt.
I remember when my daughter
Learned to skate,
On her in-line skates
That she had to have
To be like everyone else.

How she held my hand
As I skated beside her.
Oh so slowly dragging her along.
Holding her up
So she would not fall.

And how with time
She learned her own balance.
She learned to move her own feet.
And little by little
Let go of my hand.

I can remember how proud she was.
That she had learned to skate.
On her own.
Without me there
To hold her up.

And I can remember
Watching her fall
That very first time.
Right on her bottom.

And how she sat there,
And she cried,
If only just a little.
Sitting there
On the hard, hard pavement.

And I remember watching her
As she slowly got back up.
Making sure she had her balance.
Knowing this time she could fall.
And that the ground was oh so hard.
Now, here I stand.
Before this mirror
Looking at myself.
Knowing I could fall once more.
And that the ground is oh so hard.

I have watched my little girl
As she learned to walk.
Then to run and skate.
Always falling as she learned.
Enduring bruises and scrapes.

And I know that
Every time she fell
My daughter got back up,
Risking more bruises and scrapes.
Knowing that falling hurt.

But my daughter knew
You can not walk
Without ever falling.
And now it seems
I’ve learned from watching her.

For now I know
I can not feel the joys of life
Without the risk
Of being hurt.

Just Because I Listen To My Heart And Soul

[Author’s Note: A friend told me to go ahead and share these words so that those who would understand them would have the chance to see them. He also said I should not worry about those that would not understand them. So, the words finally get shared, two weeks to the day after I originally wrote them.]

I’ve learned a lot
In the last 9 months.
About myself.
And about other people.

You have to understand.
I’m autistic.
To me, there are times
When other people
Just seem completely heartless
To me.

I know they’re not.
But the way they behave
Just seems so ruthless to me.
As if they don’t care at all
For anyone.

Since I’m having problems again
With definitions,
And translations,
Between my neurodiverse self,
And the neurotypical world.
I’ll do what I’ve done once before.

I’ll look up a word
In the dictionary.
This time,
I’ll look up ruthless.
Since that’s how people
Sometimes seem to me.

Having no compassion or pity; merciless: ruthless cruelty; ruthless opportunism.

feeling or showing no mercy; hardhearted

And yes.
Having looked up the words,
And seen what they mean
In the neurotypical world.
I find the word applies
To what I sometimes see
In the people that I meet.

I cried tears of pain
When my friend told me
That she had cancer.
And I’m wondering now
If I was the only one
That did.

I cried tears of pain
When my friend became
A victim of depression.
And I’m not wondering at all
If anyone else did.
I know for a fact
That they did not.
That instead,
All the did as ask,
“What’s wrong with her?”

And rather than accept
That I was so very wounded
And in need of help
Those same people
Evicted me
From their lives.
So that they could work,
And behave,
As if nothing had gone wrong.
And I was never there,
And hence,
Never hurt.

Was one tear shed for me?
I truthfully don’t know.
But even if there were
I can say one thing
With no doubt at all.

That the people responsible
For making decisions
About the fate of people
In that place.
Behaved as if they didn’t care
If I was hurt at all.

Ruthless indeed.
With no pity.
No mercy.
And no remorse.
They turned their hearts to stone.
And said to themselves,
“That person’s gone.”

And then they carried on
As if I’d never been there
In the first place.

And I haven’t heard a single thing
About a single one of them.
Because that’s how
They wanted it to be.

So here I sit,
At my computer.
Writing once again.
And wondering.
And asking.
“Is my confidence in me

And I’m learning that it’s not.

It’s not that my confidence
In my abilities is gone.
It’s not that I no longer believe
In me.
It’s not that I hate me,
And am trying to destroy

It’s not like that at all.

It’s that I no longer believe,
Even a little bit,
In this world I never made.
That the only thing I see in it
Is how it ruthlessly
People like myself.

And I’m wondering
If I can take
My heart and my soul
Into that world
I never made

And if I do,
Will I end up once again
Being isolated and alone.
With everybody gone.

Just because I listen
To my heart
And soul?

Monday In His Front Yard

It was 0700 hours.
It was already over 80 degrees.
It was so humid
You could feel the water
Hanging in the air.

He parked the wheelbarrow
Next to his driveway.
And then went into his garage.
And found the tool he needed.
An old fashioned
Singled bladed
Edging tool.
The kind you step on
To force the blade
To cut through the weeds
Into the ground
Where you want it to.

And he used that tool
To edge his entire driveway.
And his front sidewalk too.
Then he took
His wheelbarrow
And gathered up
All the weeds
That he’d cut through.
And took those weeds
To the compost bin
In his back yard.
And dumped them in.

It took two trips
For him to get
All the weeds
That he’d cut through
When he’d edged
The driveway
And the sidewalk too.

And when he was done
Cleaning up the weeds,
He stood in the middle
Of his driveway
For a little while.
And enjoyed looking  at
The clean, sharp edges
That he’d made.

“It’s a good day,
Isn’t it?”
He thought to himself.
He was quite happy
Standing there
In the middle of the driveway.
Because he’d done something
That needed doing.

Yes, it was a little step.
But after everything
That he’d been through.
Any steps at all
Were good.

After all,
How do you renew
Your trust in you?

Then he put the wheelbarrow
Next to the front flower bed.
Then he looked at the weeds
That were growing in it.
And he wondered
Just how many days
It would take him
To dig all those things up.

He took out
His hand shovel.
And started digging up
Lots and lots of weeds.
And as he dug,
He got dirt
On his hands
His arms
His pants.
His shirt.

And he sweated
So very much
That all the dirt
That got on him
Pretty much
Turned to mud.

And he worked
In that flower bed.
For 2 solid hours.
He dug up weeds
Until he had filled up
The wheelbarrow.

Then he took that wheelbarrow
Into his back yard.
And dumped all those weeds
Into the compost bin.
So they could slowly
Turn to dirt

Then he went to the garage.
And pulled out the lawn mower.
And he mowed
His entire front yard.

He said to himself
After he was done.
And the lawnmower
Was put up.
“I should have taken
A picture.
Before I did a thing.
And I’d take a picture now.
So that everyone could see
How much I got done

And he stood there
For a little while.
Feeling very proud of himself
For the first time
In quite a while.
And he felt even better
When he thought
How his family would be proud,
And the neighbors
Would be happy.
That he’d finally shown
Some signs of life
At last.

He knew though,
That the work
Had just begun.
And he found
He was looking forward to
Cleaning up
His own front yard.

He did wonder, though
How many days it would take
To get his front yard
And he knew,
Of course,
There was only one way
That he’d ever find the answer
To that question.

He’d have to work again
In his front yard.

She Sang A Song On Sunday Morning

On Sunday morning,
I went to church again.
At the church I was drawn to
On the 1st of May.

I never know at all
What to expect
On Sunday mornings
When I am at church.
I go
Because it feels
Like I want to go.
Because when I go
I feel better
All Sunday long.

And every time I go
Something happens
That I did not expect.
And could never have predicted.

Sunday morning was no exception.
I thought about
Staying at home.
Spending extra time
With my lady.
And my family.
And helping them
With whatever they might wish
To do.

But I went to church.

And the service started
With special music
Sung by one of the ladies
Of the church.
It was a  song
I’d never heard.
But I realized
As she sang the words
That the song she sang that day
Was the reason
God had brought me there.

“There’s a place of quiet stillness ‘tween the light and shadows reach
Where the hurting and the hopeless seek everlasting peace
Words of men and songs of angels whisper comfort bittersweet
Mending grief and life eternal where joy and sorrow meet”

And I wondered
As I sat there on that pew
In the church
That I go to
If anyone there knew
How very much
Those words
Touched me.

If anyone there knew
Of the darkness
I’ve been through
In this past year.
Of how very much
My heart aches
Every day.
Of the tears
That my soul cries.

Her song continued on.

“There is a place where hope remains
In crowns of thorns and crimson stains
And tears that fall on Jesus’ feet
Where joy and sorrow meet”

As she sang the words
On Sunday morning
There within the church
I wondered if there was
Someone there
That knew my hope
Was all but gone.
That I had no faith at all
In the world I live in
Any more.
That I wondered
Every night
As I went to sleep
If I would ever trust
Anyone again.

And I listened to her voice
As she sang the words
Of the song
I was there to hear.

“There’s a place the lost surrender and the weary will retreat
Full of grace and mercy tender in times of unbelief
For the wounded there is healing, strength is given to the weak
Broken hearts find love redeeming where joy and sorrow meet”

I remember how very hard it was
For me to hold on then.
For I’m stubborn.
And I’m proud.
And I don’t cry
When anyone’s around.

It was so very hard
To keep the tears
My soul was crying
As she sang her song
From becoming tears
That my eyes cried.

For the song spoke
To the aching of my heart.
It touched my very soul.

And I knew without a doubt
God had brought me to the church
On that Sunday morning
So that she could sing those words
That God above
Wished for me to hear.

And still her voice continued on
Though I could not see her
Any more.

“There’s a place of thirst and hunger where the roots of faith grow deep
And there is rain and rolling thunder when the road is rough and steep
There is hope in desperation there is victory in defeat
At the cross of restoration where joy and sorrow meet”

And since Sunday,
When God drew me into church.
And had her sing that song
That I so needed to hear.
The aching of my heart
Is all but gone.

Thank you God above
For the gift you gave to me
On Sunday morning.
The gift
Of someone I have never met
Singing a song I’d never heard.
That you wanted me to hear.

Thank you for reminding me
That so long as my heart beats
Here within my chest,
The darkness of this life
Will always fade away.
Replaced once more
By the light of day.

And the hope it always brings.

Dreams: Walking Toward The Horizon

He stood there.
On the sand.
Down by the waters edge.
And watched the sun come up.

It was the start
Of a new day.
In oh, so many ways.

The thing about a new day is
That you never really know
What will happen
During it.

You don’t know
When the day begins
If you will even be alive
When the sun sets,
And the night begins.
You don’t know
If you will be injured.
Or diagnosed as ill,
And going to die
In just weeks,
Or months.

You don’t know
If you will be struck
By a car
In the parking lot
At work.

Perhaps you will trip,
And fall head first
Down the stairs
At work.

Perhaps you’ll put your foot down wrong,
And your ankle will turn over,
And you’ll fall.
And have a sprain,
Or broken bones.

You could stand up
Without remembering
To watch your head.
And end up needing

There are so many things
That could happen
On the day ahead.
And no one knows
At the dawn
What will happen
On that day.

He’d been through an awful lot
In the past 12 months.
It had been an entire year
Since his troubles had begun.
And all of his worst fears
Had come to life
In that painful year.

He’d lost his job.
He’d lost all the people
That he’d thought
Were his friends.
Everything he’d worked for
In this life
Had been taken from him.

He’d become ill.
But not physically.
It was a mental health problem.
And he’d learned
That no one that he worked with
Knew any way at all
To deal with him
And the illness that he had.

It made him sad to know
That they had become
So afraid of him.
That they felt as if
It was not safe for them
To even talk with him.

He looked out to sea,
Where the sun was just above
The ocean
And its waves.
“Why are people always so afraid
Of anything
And anyone
They do not understand?”

“Why are people
So very much afraid
To take a chance?
To step outside
The safety
And security
Of the lives they lead,
Where they know everything?”

“How can people become
So very set
In their ways?
So very much afraid
Of change?”

Then he turned away
From the ocean,
And the sun,
Looking toward the horizon
That lay inland.

“I can’t control them.
I can’t ask them
To change their ways.
It’s up to them
What they do.
To decided for themselves
How to react to me.”

And then he took
A long, deep breath.
Then exhaled slowly.
Feeling his body breath.
Feeling the sun
Shine upon his back.
Feeling the wind
At the oceans edge.

Feeling everything
That the body
Life had granted him
Could feel.

“I can’t wait for them
To decide
What they wish to do.
I’ve waited now
For over 5 months.
It’s time to move on
With my life.
To find out for myself
What the future of my life
Just might be.”

And with those words
He began to walk
Toward the horizon.
Away from the ocean.
And the sand.

Toward a future
That he didn’t know.
A future that was there
Beyond the horizon
That lay

“Bring it.”
Was all he said.