A free verse poem inspired by Van Morrison’s Listen to the Lion.
Listen, listen, listen to the lion inside of me. Van the man’s words echo in my mind. I should listen to the lion, but instead, I’m listening to a dead man’s voice coming from my car stereo as if it has somehow tapped into the other side.
Something is telling me to stop writing this, that this is lousy fucking writing. That’s what it’s saying. Did I take my brain pill this morning? I can’t remember. I listen, listen, listen to the dead man’s voice, and wonder.
I have to write this, even if the voice in my head hates it. If I don’t, then I probably won’t write the next one either. The voice will take my poetry, like it took my music, like it took my drive, like it took my confidence.
Am I boring you yet? Are you having negative thoughts about me? I know the waitress at the Thai joint was laughing at me. I fucking know it. Am I that insecure? Not usually. Or am I? You can stop reading whenever you want.
Do you know how many times I start to type out a message only to delete it? I want to know you. I desire the company of like-minded people, but I keep hitting backspace. I don’t want to be disappointed, nor do I want to disappoint, and believe me, I will.
Please stay. Keep reading. Allow me this. I don’t take the gift of your time lightly. I’m not like this all the time. I don’t like sharing this side of myself.
I don’t want to leave. I want to stay home today. I’d like to sit in this frozen car and watch the light cut through the ice while I listen, listen, listen to the lion. I will search my very soul for the lion inside of me.
As I’m new to the WordPress platform, I thought it appropriate not only to begin posting some of my work but to introduce myself properly. My name is Brandon White; I’m a poet, songwriter, and digital artist from the Fort Smith, Arkansas area. I’m a husband, father of twin girls, dog daddy, and a bit of an obsessive creative.
I began my work at the age of 14 (I’m 34 now) after falling in love with the craft of songwriting. I would spend the next eleven years of my life pursuing my musical goals, meeting and working with some amazing people, playing a ton of shows, and raging against the unfair practices of the music business while also wishing for my turn in the spotlight.
After marrying my lovely wife, Kenzie, in 2012, I would continue to pursue my musical dreams until 2016, when tragic circumstances befell my family. My father, my best friend, was diagnosed with cancer for a second time. His first brush with lymphoma came around the time that Kenzie and I were married. He made his way to MD Anderson in Houston, Texas, began treatment, and breezed through it as if cancer were nothing more than a common cold. He would walk the halls with Black Sabbath blaring on his iPhone and never missed an opportunity to remind someone that he was, in fact, the real Iron Man.
After his cancer returned in 2016, he approached treatment with the same confidence. Sadly, his situation became increasingly more complicated, which resulted in his fight lasting months on end and his body and mind suffering the devastating effects of both the disease and treatment. It was also during this challenging time that Kenzie and I discovered we were parents-to-be, to which my Father said, “It’s sure going to be funny when it’s twins!”
I still don’t know how he knew, and I’m sure there’s plenty of you who’re thinking “coincidence,” but I feel relatively confident that somehow he knew more than we did. When I called him to confirm that his “joke” had been established as our reality, he rallied himself once more to meet his newest grandbabies. We would have two more years together.
When Dad’s cancer recurred a third time, he chose not to seek treatment. His mind, his body, his spirit, were worn down, and he knew his fight was over. My Mother, Mother-In-Law, and I became his end-of-life care team, and we worked around-the-clock to ensure his comfort and that he was surrounded by love. It was during this challenging period that poetry came into my life. I began writing at a furious pace to make sense of my emotions and cope.
My father died on February 27th, 2019. I sat by his side, holding his hand as he took his final breath. If it weren’t for my wife, children, and my poetry, I’m not sure what would’ve become of me after such a devastating loss. I began to throw myself into my writing even more, and as the year passed, it became apparent that a body of work was taking shape—a tribute to my father and my journey through the grieving process. I wanted to send these poems into the world in hopes that they would reach all the faraway places he never saw and hopefully provide some comfort to those who’d inevitably find themselves in my position.
I began to make it known that I was seeking a publisher for the collection, and not long after, the universe sent me the perfect partner in tara caribou and Raw Earth Ink. tara worked tirelessly to help bring the project together. She listened patiently to my concerns and hopes for the work, never stopping short of achieving my vision. With tara’s expertise and my poetry, May of 2020 saw the release of my debut, The Year that Stole the Light Away.
Born from my greatest heartbreak, the feedback I’ve gotten from the book has been so wonderful. I’ve achieved my goal of seeing my poetry reach some of the world’s most beautiful places, and I am grateful that it’s found a home in the lives of others. I hope it remains a sturdy companion for years to come.
So, after spending the majority of 2020 promoting the book as much as this crazy year would allow, I now near the publication of my second collection, which I’m excited to share more about when appropriate. I hope to carve a place out for myself on this platform and look forward to connecting with you. On my page, you’ll find several poems for your enjoyment, along with a gallery of some of my digital art. I also plan to discuss other works I’ve enjoyed along with music that inspires me; who knows what else?