20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers


When Silence Ends

When, as a child, did you play happily
by the stream, and come singing home,
passionately sharing your adventures,
only for the beloveds to tell you, “Quiet!”

And when, in your classes, did you
confidently speak your truth, answer
their questions, paint your construction
paper masterpiece,  and the trusteds told you,
“It’s not good enough.”

And when did you feel the whisper of spirit
in your soul, gently guiding you on your way,
and you shared, and they laughed?

And when did you stop listening, painting, writing, speaking, trusting? 

And when will you decide that the darkness has
lasted too long, that the  passion of a new day
can no longer wait, lest  you tear free from your
own skin where you’ve been confined all these years?

That stumbling across stones and briars,
feet cut and bleeding, is preferable to the safe
and righteous path, where no pain, in fact
nothing at all, makes cuts into your soul?

When will you decide that fear of words
without real meaning will no longer be the
prison walls that demand freedom of the captor?

And when will you stoke the flames, when will you once
again tend to the spark, blow the breath of life into
the still-smoldering ashes, collect the branches and
twigs that have fallen in your path, burn them on
your altar, and fuel the dawning of reclaimed light?

© SpiritLed 2014

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Don’t watch. Wait, no, I know you have to count
the minutes so you know how long it lasts,
this seizure with its dynamite that blasts
my brain to temporary shreds. With gaunt

eyes, lost in fog now, I depend on you.
You may not know just what to do, but still,
I beg: Don’t let it drive my avenue.
Please, help to quiet down its voice so shrill.


The Elusive Poem

A poem lives above the clouds, beneath the sea,
and sends its tender voice on shimmered wings to me.
I do not hear because my world runs crazy-fast,
and its deliciousness has gone away, has passed.

I need to tune my ear to my dear muse’s voice,
stop all my busyness, and rather make the choice
to pay attention. She won’t carry anything
that doesn’t shine like gold or absolutely sing.

When I am still I hear her whisper in the dark.
Shh, poet, listen for the gifts I hold for you.
Come with me on my journey. I await. Embark
upon my ship and we’ll explore far lands anew.

First Bon Voyage, a stolen glance, my quiet stance.
So long I’ve waited. Now I partner in this dance.  


It all began Sat. morning when I was getting ready to go to my writing group. We were participating in the “Tales Around the Tree” event that was being held at an elegant old library, once a bank. I’ve written about that elsewhere. I’d awakened with a thin voice, blazing sore throat, and deep cough. I decided to soldier through my responsibilities.


My voice is back, the sore throat is gone, but the cough has gone way down deep and become much worse. It feels like someone is standing on my chest so I called my pulmonologist but couldn’t get an appointment until Thurs. at 9:15. Then I decided I would also call my doctor and fortunately I got an appointment for this afternoon at 2:30. In the meantime I’m chugging Robitussin.

I really want to write, but I may not be too productive today. I’ll catch up. Have a good day, everyone.

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The Phone Call

The phone would have rung about 11:00 this morning.

“Happy Thanksgiving, honey.”

My mom. And she did it on Christmas, and Easter, and our birthdays, and our anniversary, always that call to begin the day.

It’s been 17 years since I’ve heard that phone call. It was her habit. Call the kids and wish them a happy ____________(whatever). Her voice, tuned to the emotional strings of the day, rang into the depths of me. I could depend on it. Like clockwork, as they say. No call this morning, no voice…

…except in my heart, where I will always hear it.


Another Direction

I saw the pulmonologist again this afternoon. While I’m better I still have a little coughing and some raspiness to my voice.

He was pleased with the progress I’ve made. However, he’s going to do some allergy testing on August 14. He also recommended that we have our carpeting and furniture professionally cleaned, even though we no longer have our cat, because kitty fur and dander is still present. I haven’t had that service for awhile so it’s good timing. I’ll call tomorrow to make that appointment.

I hope to get some answers.


The Lone Walker

The lone walker going by the war-field,

Without nothing that could be used for a shield.

He was there weeping for the ones that have gone,

Silently with no noise what he did was moan.

He lost everything to the war,

Now he is left crying with a throat so sore.

He was crying, weeping all alone,

Never could he see his child grown.

The small child who was still in his wife’s womb,

Now he has to be buried within the tomb.

He had nothing else to live for but his pain,

Which is there settled for eternity in his brain.

But all of a sudden a voice within him speak,

The voice he did seek-

“Do not cry for the dead”, it said in a firm way,

Now he knew there would come a new day.

He won’t lose himself like he lost his beloved as such,

He would now try to survive, he knew this much.

He would live for his wife,

Dedicate to her his life.

He would live for that child, he could never know,

And love the people once again to show,

That he is still alive even after what happened to him,

And would outcast his grief full to the brim.

He would try end all this violence, so futile,

He would have to walk on a long mile.

Never would he allow anyone else to face,

He would pray to the Almighty for his grace.

The lone walker would live another life,

This time he would not allow the use of knife.

He would live, he would save,

So that not another person go in this way to grave.

The lone walker going by the war field,

With nothing that could be used as a shield,

Because he doesn’t require it anymore,

He has gained after all the ultimate lore.

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Mom Memories

Her hands that served, her mouth curved in a smile,
she’d walk for you that long and extra mile–
my mother who would give her heart to you,
imbues this home with memories that do

not go away. I sit upon her chair,
and wear her winter coat of blue. So rare,
her brand of mothering, and I, blessed child
recall her voice melodious and mild.

She always whistled “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,”
took in stray dogs and cats. All girls and guys,
no matter what their age, were drawn to her,
but I’m the one who knew her love…for sure.

Voice Update

So I saw the P.A. this time. She lowered the dose of Advair again. I used to be on 250 mcg, then when all of this bronchial stuff started a nurse-practitioner increased that to 500 for one week. That’s when my voice started going. I was then reduced back to 250, but the pulmonologist took that down to 100 mcg, which I’ve been on for several weeks. Still a hoarse voice.

Today the Advair was decreased to 45 mcg, and I was given Advair in the regular inhaler form (with a spacer) rather than the Diskus. This will assure that the particles are distributed in an even finer spray, and hopefully this will cause my voice to return.

I hope this works.

I’m patient, but I have to tell you that this is beginning to grate on me.

TEE-HEE, “grate,” that was accidental!

So we’ll see how this works.


The Value of Voice

I’m off to the pulmonologist’s. After not talking very little yesterday, my voice isn’t much different. I hope nothing is permanently wrong with it. I mean, if it were a cool-sounding husky, that would be one thing, but it’s not. It’s kind of a raspy, quiet, thin effort of air. I squeak, kind of like my 14 year-old grandson, whose voice is changing but hasn’t quite arrived at its lowest yet.

I’ll let you know how things turn out.


Almost Voiceless

The asthmatic bronchitis that grabbed me on Easter night has cleared, but I am left with a very hoarse, husky, and sometimes almost non-existent voice. Tomorrow morning I see the pulmonologist — again — and I hope he can give me encouragement about how long it will be until my voice returns.

I know the severe coughing for all those weeks (about nine) wracked my vocal cords. Maybe I should say “wrecked.” I know someone who led an aerobics class for a long time, and eventually she had to stop because it was too hard on her voice. She now has a permanently-husky voice.

The doctor said I need to rest my voice. But do you know how hard that is? No phone calls, no Skype, and people don’t realize they shouldn’t talk to you or ask you questions. When S. lost her voice she had to write notes to her family. I don’t want to have to start writing notes to my husband, but I guess I’ll do what is necessary to have my voice restored.

So today I’ve talked very little in an attempt to rest those vocal cords. That’s why I’ve been writing so much. I’m kind of a lazy one today, staying, for the most part, in the recliner with my computer on my lap. Not talking takes away a lot of activities, believe it or not. Almost everything requires talking. Oh, I guess I could do some cleaning, things like that, but guess what?


This Pencil


this pencil is my savior, it is my voice

this pencil sings of lost love

of lost hope

the tree of life that grows

the garden of the dark fruit

this wood; it is my paint brush that

caress’ my soul, that soothes my heart

and whittle’s away my time

this pencil, this withering branch that

I sharpen and point toward the East

point toward the past and point toward

the gates of history

it is my mast that floats erect

on the swells of the ocean

traveling toward the shore

lightened with buoyancy

lightened with poetry

this pencil is my savior, it is

singing my tales, singing my songs,

singing the voices of hope.

© [Jeanette Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2012]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jeanette Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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