Soapbox Stories Presents: Beyond Shattered Dreams: A Journey Through Grief to Self-Empowerment – A Book Review

“Beyond Shattered Dreams: A Journey Through Grief to Self-Empowerment”
by Gaylene Guillemin
Published by Gaylene Guillemin
Reviewed by Ben Charles
C$16.99 ISBN: 9781775220404

“Beyond Shattered Dreams: A Journey Through Grief to Self-Empowerment”, written and published by Gaylene Guillemin can be best described as a powerful and tender guide through the inescapable sorrows of the human condition that are grief and loss. Guillemin has a wide variety of expertise in the field of loss as a motivational speaker, an angel card reader and from formal education with a certificate in Death and Grief Studies. However, it is not from her studies or her energy work that Guillemin draws from to speak on her experiences with loss but from the tragic loss of her late husband in 2014, Mervin Guillemin, whom she affectionately refers to as “Merv”.

The book begins as Gaylene discusses her relationship with Merv. She had been married to him for twenty-two years and from her descriptions of their family and life together the reader can easily see the deep level of love that she still has for him. Gaylene goes on to discuss Merv’s declining health, and the challenges that losing mobility, being in and out of hospitals constantly, and the potential of organ transplantation bring to a family. Through Guillemin’s beautiful, poetic, and vivid writing the reader is truly brought to her world to see the good times and the bad. The reader gets to experience what an honourable, loving, caring and kind man that Merv was and how much he meant to those around him. After the passing of Merv, Guillemin describes her experiences with themes such as accepting loss, allowing grief, finding identity, and facing new days with optimism and hope.

The subject matter of this book is certainly a heavy one and I would recommend that a reader eases into it with an open mind and the discretion to read at their own pace. The start of the book will resonate with anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one or is currently experiencing a loved one’s declining health. That being said, I truly believe that there is a plethora of wisdom and insightfulness that will help a person through these issues, even if they are hesitant to experience the emotional weight of it at first.

Death is not an easy thing to even think about, let alone talk about and write about. I applaud Guillemin for her bravery and her transparent selflessness that is this book. When life brings tragedy, it is far too easy to become embittered by it, blaming the world for your sorrow. Guillemin instead chooses the altruistic option of helping people that are going through similar tragedy that she has gone through. It seemed fitting to me that I began this book in tears and closed it with a smile.            

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM

Fishing

The water is calm and careless
as virgin glass
shimmering like countless diamonds.
Nothing is wrong,
emails and deadlines and phone calls are nowhere near to harass,
aluminum beer cans stashed in an aluminum diamond,

glistening in mounds.

Rocks are weathered, wise and smooth
from the constant caress of the shore.
My brother swears, can’t see the beauty
only sees a chore.
As he misses the forest for the trees,
I admit that they are impossible to miss.
An oaken, birch and pine army watches on,
Tall, dark, and legion.
A stoic reminder this world is not mine to do as I please.
Winds whisper news from the Arctic, they sway and they soothe.

With a flick and a plop
my line hits the water.
In this waiting game I pop a top,
light a cigarette, sit back and relax
to talk meaningless trivia and pop culture facts.
Did you know that the Biebs is engaged to Stephen Baldwin’s daughter?” 

Bended urgency cuts riveting conversation short!
An aquatic wrestler writhes and convulses
guilty of only following instinct and a yellow 5 spotted lure.
I cuss and swear, it is becoming a chore.
C’mon, you dirty fuckin’ whore!”
The line is up, my reel whirs, I cannot hear it over a rapid pulse
Flashes of silvers, emerald and a torpedo contour
I am aided by the closest helping hand, through netted support.

Stripped from the water, a rude awakening like birth.
The wrestler becomes a gymnast
bending, leaping, contorting to impossible angles
to escape the anglers, scorching in the sun, or drowning on the earth.
In the plastic box it goes. A live well, a death row cell.

Back to shore we clean, filet, cook, then celebrate.
Eat as we have been eaten by mosquitos and gnats.
Our hearts full of love, our heads full of joy, our bellies full of beer and fat.
Off to bed in bunks, ignoring sounds of buzzing intruders and death rattle snores.
The sun’s curious oranges peek over her celestial fence.
She is excited, too impatient and tense. She does not know her own strength
her radiance pours.

Steam from black coffee rises from porcelain and sand.
One more cast off the beach then I’ll go for breakfast, I tell myself.
As I cast off again and again.

Goodbye, Copper

Hello, readers.

Thanks again for viewing my work and all of the likes and great comments I’ve had on it so far. I will be adding a new, exciting portion to this blog that I hope all of you enjoy, as well.

But right now I want to share something a little sad. Recently, my parents had to put their dog down. He was a beautiful coonhound/bloodhound mix and a super affectionate, loving dog. Unfortunately, he was also an anxious and scared dog, which caused him to bite people unexpectedly, myself included. I was incredibly sad not only for his loss but also for the loss of all of the joy and companionship that he gave my parents, who now live alone. I hope that you enjoy this poem, and I hope it expresses how I feel adequately. My plan is to revise and edit this in the future but knew it was important to get my feelings out.

Thank you,

Ben Charles

 

Goodbye, Copper

by Ben Charles

I remember the day I first saw you
peeking to the open fields on my iPhone screen.
You were in my father’s arms, full of wonder, content in his plaid jacket.
You were mischievous and devious and new to life,
impatient to unravel the mysteries of all you could see.

Tiny and nimble, you tore the world asunder.
You had new friends to make, new foods to eat and a coffee can that always needed a thrashing.
You were sweet, you gave love and were loved to bits, even when you spazzed and threw fits.

“Cute little bastard, isn’t he?” My brother asked at the Christmas party.
He was right, but you cared hardly.
You had a village of a family, a belly full of junk, and a heart full of joy.
My eldest brother mourns you the most, you were his entire world.
I smile remembering the days he’d bring you fast food and toys,
you had him wrapped around your paw, he knew it and he didn’t care.
He told me he has nothing to look forward to at home, now that you’re not there.

I wish I could have saved you, and please know that I tried.
I wish I could have told you how serious biting is, that you could understand.
The seeds of doubt were planted when you bit my hand.
Then you bit the drunkard and my mother cried.

Anxious and afraid, you chased ghosts and delusions.
While the townspeople whispered rumours, theories and illusions.
Some were true, most were false.
I loved how happy my parents were to have you,
their decision was not on impulse.

Do not be anxious, do not be afraid of where you lie.
When my mother went through with it, she cried and she cried.
I will always remember you, Copper. You left imprints in my heart and on my hand.
I hope that you find the peace that you never had in life.
I hope that is an end to your suffering and strife.

Goodbye, Copper.

IMG_0294

Poetry Belongs

Poetry.
What is that? It is all, it is nothing,
it is deep, it is trite, it is to be cherished and preserved like a precious wedding ring,
it is an archaic, irrelevant, dainty art
it is shite, it is smart.
Poetry is a dead dream.
Poetry is alive and well, if you’d only care to see.

Poetry is the shit, poetry is ass. It depends on who you ask.
Who does poetry belong to? To whom does poetry belong?
It depends on whom you ask.
Poetry belongs to the teenage girl.
Barely older than fourteen, Heartbroken, destroyed and broken by the love of her life. She pens her tears, her fear, and her petty smears.
She is certain that she will never find love again.
The poet has had love and lost, Her voice is found in loose leaf despite rolling eyes.
They do not understand, they cannot critique,
What this boy meant to her that she dated for two weeks.
Is poetry pretentious? Does the best work only work for the best of us?
It depends on who you ask.
Poetry belongs to the spoken word poet in Vancouver or Seattle,
the mumble-rapper, the modern beatnik.
Armed with stones and sticks, legends of their own minds, ready for battle.
They provide the fuel this world needs in the energy crisis.
Refraction of self-satisfaction.
Perpetual motion of the ego drives to resolve the plagues of the earth, to be the scourge of evil.
The perpetual engine exhausts a smog of smug, echo chambers power the poet’s societal upheaval.
Is this all there is to see in poetry?
In 14-year-olds and $14 cups of coffee?
It depends on who you ask.
Poetry belongs to those who need it most.
To those who have no voice or to those who need to boast.
It belongs to the farmer, the working man, the average Joe.
It belongs to jealous, the sad, the glad and the mad.
Any poetry written is serendipitous- even if it is lame, limp, self-righteous and insipid. Any poetry written is within the collective soul, whether it is hidden or for show.
It belongs to those who are always talked over, interrupted, and never given speech. Silenced by family or by government, countless stories are never given release.
It belongs to the pure and the corrupt alike, it belongs to the straight, the gays, and it even belongs to the …
Sike!
But there is a place for that too, in this oddity that is poetry.
As is with all, poetry must end,
That is the only fact certain to be true.
Please do not jeer, please do not boo.
For I am a poet, my psyche is much too fragile to defend
this laughable cliché I pass off as insightful thoughts, my friends,
that poetry belongs to you.

Advertising

Curse you, relentless salesmen
You marketers of young and old
Who hound me to buy, to consume products sold
Again, again, and again

For now, it is the way, we cannot go a day
Without one million voices telling us
We are too ugly, too fat, too grey
We have no value without a sale of value
Our only hope and dreams lie with what we buy and dare not to discuss
We want more sex, we buy more drugs
But God forbid, that we dare discuss
Sex and drugs

Don’t let it cause you stress
Chill, let us sell you a pill
Reality is overrated, reality is a mess
I’m the Dr. here. Now, get the fuck out of my office. I have plenty more Xanax to shill

Watch TV, go on Facebook and Twitter to ease your mind
Our prospects of sales
Are very close behind
Here we are again, you cannot hide
Here we are again, without fail

Be your own boss!
Work your own hours!
But you have to have profits, no room for loss
Be aggressive in sales, do not let financially weak friends cower

We will return after a message from our sponsors
Was the way of the old
Like, follow, and subscribe
For new content every week
Is the way of the new

Advertise to your children
To find inspiration within
For wherever they look
They will only see a sales pitch, a marketing hook
A deal most fair
A Toxic world that’s 50% off if they buy in bulk
A Bud Light Monster Energy Deluxe White Trash Nightmare
A pseudo-entrepreneurial snake, a sales-machine, a marketing-Hulk

They will convince our flesh and blood
As they have convinced us
That it is is better to be brand
“I AM MY OWN BRAND”
Than it is to be human
They have convinced us
It is better to define ourselves with a logo- to forget our soul, forget pride and shame
But onwards we go
Glady we advertise- we peddle cheap, placebo shit for the Instagram fame
“I AM BUILDING MY OWN BUSINESS”
We say as we give our loyal customers a 20% discount to a supplement sponsor
As we purchase retweets and answers
We have convinced ourselves it is better to live as a brand,
Than it is to define ourselves, to live on our own values
To live as a man.

 

You Don’t Know What You Lost

The Selfish Fool, The God of Weakness
Run, run away
Run, run away
Run, run, run away lest what you create

Grows

Grows to bring light to existence, light to humanity
Light to fate
Bring light to your fate
But you prefer the dark
The dark-  hide where it is safe
Where you can hide from failure, hide from human spark
Hide where there is no need to fight

Hide, hide away
Hide from the one
Who would starve to death
To give a meal to your son
So that he may live another day, take another breath

Hide, hide away
Hide, hide away
Hide from your greatest gift to the world
You do not know what you lost

God left his only son
For the sake of mankind, for the sake of the world
A lighted faith, a fighted Death, a lamb to the slaughter

The God of Weakness
Left his only daughter
For the sake of himself, for the sake of retreat
A coward’s fate: a weakling’s life, and a girl without a father
The God of Weakness
He couldn’t accept the challenge of life, he is too pathetic for even basic feats
Like Gestas on Golgotha, he does not have the strength to endure any stress
He’d rather take the easy way, the coward’s way
To deny, to run, and to hide, to never suffer defeat

Run, run away
Run, run away
Light cannot blind you when your back is turned
This light is too bright for you
God of Weakness
Lord of Cowardice
Had you opened your eyes to see her, given them a chance
Perhaps they would not be burnt and blind
Had you let yourself feel her shine, the warmth and the bliss
Perhaps you would be stronger, perhaps you’d have her first dance

I,
God of Weakness
Am too strong to run, run, run away

I,
Lord of Cowardice
Embrace the light, I will not hide, hide, hide away

I,
The Disappearance
Am much stronger than you
I will have her first dance

Her light does not blind me
Clearly, I see
I see, I see
I see her kindness, I see it deny wickedness and evil
I see her tenacity, I see it care for the injured and ill
Are you lost? God of Weakness?
These are not qualities of a coward, nor are they found in a bottle
Therefore you would know nothing about them, slink away
Find your glass neck to throttle

I see, I see
I see her see injustice and face it with a fist and shout
Does that frighten you? Lord of Cowardice?
It does not frighten me
You have sacrificed nothing, you have fought none of life’s brawls or bouts
You will never know her, nor understand all that she can be

I see, I see
I see her cry
Cry to the plight of strangers
Cry to simplest of joy
You don’t know what you lost
When she cries, her tears are always to the beauty of life
Life emerald, ruby, and diamond- where her tears are where beauty is
More precious, as her tears cannot be corrupted by greed, anger and strife

Lord of Cowardice
You don’t know what you lost
Lord of Cowardice
I don’t know how to thank you, thank you for us both
When you ran, ran away
Slithered without a spine
She was lost and betrayed, she did not know her worth
When she became mine, I will help her find this
That is my trial, that is my oath

I saw, you see, what you could not see
For I am not a God
I am a man

I WILL LIVE AS A MAN
I WILL DIE AS A MAN
Like Dismas on Golgotha, I see greatness- but not of mine

I fear death, Lord of Cowardice
You fear life, God of Weakness
You do not know what you lost, nor do you care
I can admit that I do not appreciate the true worth of who I have found
You ran, ran away
Your pathetic legs making not a sound

I WILL LIVE AS A MAN
I WILL DIE AS A MAN

I will live for her
Die for her
Fight for her

I have faced death, I have endured, God of Weakness
I have seen unemployment, poverty, addiction, and every kind of bump and slice
I have survived suicide twice
Tragedy, death, hunger, and strife
These no longer frighten me
Fortune, fame, a fat belly and an easy life
These no longer appeal to me

The fires of passion and life
Have tempered me to stone
There is (No Vac)ancy for you, God Of Weakness
There is (No Vac)ancy for you, leave us alone
Though tempered stone I am, I am her rock
For her, I can withstand, I can endure, and can fight not flee
Your cowardice, your ignorance, your inability
I am glad you keep it far from us,
Glad that it will not corrupt

For our children will fight, they will endure, they will be strong
They will fight, fight towards
A future more bright, a past worth record
You, Lord of Cowardice, this is your last poem
Drunk, weak, and blind you will perish
To a bored congregation, and to apathetic hymns
Run, run, run away
To die as you wished to live
Forgotten.
To die as you wished to live
Forgotten in speech, text and song.