• ROBERT CARROLL

    Los Angeles
    (website pending)

    About 20 years ago, when I was in my mid-forties, I was going through several concurrent crises in my life.  They included the terminal illnesses of my father, my best friend, my dog, and one of my patients.  In addition I had to have reconstructive knee surgery after a skiing accident.  I was overwhelmed.  I decided to find the words to express these experiences, and thereby, make them real.  Rather than going into talk therapy, I decided that I would try to write them, and so began a twenty-year process of putting experience into written language and using expressive writing as a healing practice.

    After 9-11, poetry sprang up everywhere as New Yorkers attempted to find the word to express the inexpressible.  If you think about times in your life when you were moved to write a poem or keep a journal or just write, you have a first hand experience of what I mean.

    As I began reading my poetry at writing workshops, poetry readings, and open mics, people would approach me and say how my poetry moved them and evoked similar experiences in them, and their writing did the same in me.  I came to understand that what is most personal in a human voice is most universal.

    I began to use expressive writing in my practice of psychiatry to help others find the words to express themselves, and I came to understand that poetry has the power to promote healing in others.

    Amazing Change: Poetry of Healing and Transformation
    The Wisdom That Illness, Death, and Dying Provide, Robert Carroll

    A-Frame

    When my parents were here last week,
    they were walking different.
    My father still offers his arm
    as he always has,
    but now he leans a bit
    against my mother
    otherwise he’d dodder.

    It’s sweet,
    seeing them from behind.
    He uses her for balance,
    she leans against him
    for solidity.

    They’re more of an A-frame now:
    a stable way to build.

    The Sense

    Do not look up to me my child
    for heights seem out of reach
    and looking up will make you lose
    the sense of what I teach.

    The answers lie within us all
    but no, look outward first.
    Horizons lend perspective
    when our problems seem the worst.

    Delusions grow as people age
    and fail to realize
    that growing up is nothing more
    than knowing your own size.

    So don’t be scared of heights or depths
    that trap us with their lies.
    A parent’s love is straight ahead
    and level with your eyes.

    Amazing Change

    We can go through amazing changes
    when we are faced with knowing
    we have limited time.
    After one woman got brain cancer,
    she decided what she wanted
    was to go to Africa
    to see the gorillas.

    She and her husband and the guides
    began the long trek through the jungle
    up the mountains, but the woman was
    having trouble. The guides tried
    to convince her to go back,
    but she wouldn’t.

    She struggled and struggled.
    Eventually she won the guides over,
    and everyone was rooting for her,
    but there came a point.
    She couldn’t go on, so
    she laid down on the grass,
    and when she did, the gorillas
    came out of the jungle
    to her.