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Lost at the Moment…

The days continue to pass, my mind remains in a daze,
Other times I’m in such a fast-paced rush that I forget my surroundings
I want to do more, I know I can do more
Yet I feel so lost, so empty, so ungrounded
Who am I, why am I here, do I even belong?
WHAT IS MY PURPOSE?
I thought it had it all figured out
Things come and go,
People, places, occasions
I want to change the cycle
I know others understand this feeling
There will be a better tomorrow
Just as the sun sets it also rises
Yet as quickly as the positive thought enters,
the despair storms in and the silhouette of the unknown takes over
WHY AM I SO ANXIOUS?
What is the next step?
I can hear those around me,
Sometimes in whispers, sometimes in yells
Feelings surrounded by many
Sometimes feeling completely alone
I don’t even recognize myself anymore
Is this who I have become
This is not who I wanted to be

Rest in Peace Jonathan

Hi everyone. I am here to give some very sad news.
Jonathan, aka Someoneoddlyfamiliar passed away this Sunday.
Jonathan was a young person in recovery, a poet, and an advocate.
I only knew him through the poetry he shared with us here, but reading his words always felt like a treat and a joy. I often felt the vulnerability in his poems- the raw emotion and it reflected things that I too have felt but never could express in such ways.
It is truly a statement of Jonathan’s ability to connect with people, that even those of us who knew him online, through his poems, feel a deep sadness in the face of this terrible loss.
To our friends and partners at Advocacy Unlimited, and to Jonathan’s friends and family we extend of deepest gratitude for the words Jonathan shared with us here, and we extend our most sincere love and support to you all.

I would like to share some words that Advocacy Unlimited shared about Jonathan and his life:

A Beautiful Soul Remembered

August 9, 1997 – November 17, 2019
Johnathan M.S. McKenzie

YOU ARE INVITED
Wednesday, December 4, 2019
11AM-2PM

Artists Collective
1200 Albany Avenue
Hartford, CT 06112

ALL ARE WELCOME
Free Parking
Community Donations of Food are Welcome

Johnathan McKenzie joined the Advocacy Unlimited family just over a year ago – yet, it felt like he was a brother for lifetimes.

Beginning at an early age, Johnathan’s interest in neuropsychology, philosophy, and socioeconomics stemmed from his personal journey through New York and Connecticut’s psychiatric inpatient and outpatient systems. Upon discovering some of the fundamental flaws that lead to many of our society’s struggles, Johnathan began his pursuit of advocacy while inpatient at Connecticut Valley Hospital.

Alarmed by the inhumane treatment and the disregard of client rights, he transitioned into the community with the support of Char’Donne and Connecticut Legal Rights Project. With is new found freedom, Johnathan began participating in civil protests, mental health awareness campaigns, and LGBTQ pride events.

This led to a growing commitment to change the conditions of society to ensure all people have the opportunity to achieve their dreams free from institutional and systemic discrimination.

Despite experiencing the harshest of circumstances, Johnathan believed in the goodness of people. He was a leader who inspired all those who witnessed his grace, dignity, and charisma. His devotion and passion for protecting civil and individual rights was seen in so many ways.

Through his leadership, the Danbury NAACP Youth and College Division was founded in 2016. He then transitioned to the role of Community Coordinator with the Waterbury chapter where he was recognized this year in Detroit, Michigan for his outstanding efforts and involvement with the NAACP.

While volunteering, Johnathan became more involved with local efforts to reform the mental health service system. He joined the Connecticut Young Adult Services Statewide Advisory Board, and subsequently joined the Join Rise Be team at Advocacy Unlimited as a Training Coordinator and Young Adult Warmline Operator.

As a member of the JRB team, he collaborated directly with the Department of Mental Health of Addiction Services Young Adult Services division. Working alongside his peers to strengthen the voice of young adults and improve the partnerships between those engaged in YAS programming and the staff that work with them.

What a year it has been for Johnathan – a rising star and an agent of change. Along with receiving the youth award through the NAACP, Johnathan was recognized in Torrington as the 2019 recipient of the Fredrick “Ricky” Lagassie III award this past May and as the recipient of the Emerging Adult Voice Award through Keep the Promise Coalition for his testimony at the Appropriations Committee of the Connecticut Legislature.

Beyond the words that describe his achievements – Johnathan was passionate about running, martial arts, meditation, writing, and music. Johnathan is remembered as a quirky, dancing, improving, bowtie wearing, awesome hat rocking, roller blading, martial art doing, music making, writing, kareoking, advocating, brilliance that lit every space he entered with pure heart and presence.

Johnathan’s presence was an embodiment of love, expression, kindness, freedom, and connection.

Johnathan was love, the rarest and most pure love. His expression of kindness gave permission to all people to simply be free just as they were – nothing more was needed. He was committed to connection – wanting people to feel a sense of belonging.

For those of us lucky enough to have worked with Johnathan will remember him sitting in the office for hours, surrounded by paper placed strategically around him, candles lit and music blasting. He was changing the world each moment and breath he took.

Each letter he wrote and word he spoke was with a conviction that came from his soul. He would spend hours talking about the purpose of life, the purpose of our being, and always asking how we can define happiness. When asked, he would define happy as, “sitting right here doing all the things I love with the people I care about.”

Well, Johnathan, you changed the world for many people. Through your love, expression, kindness, freedom, and connection – those who knew are better people because of your presence.

Despite the pain, you found your way through the darkness and you lit a flame that will forever burn in the hearts of us all. You belonged right here, all along. You will never be forgotten.

To read some of Johnathan’s poetry, please go to www.TurningPointCT.org and to connect with Join Rise Be you can either check out our website www.joinrisebe.org or call the Connecticut Young Adult Warmline 7-days a week from 12-9PM
at 1-855-6HopeNow

If you, or someone you know, is navigating the abyss – you can learn more about Alternatives 2 Suicide by going to https://www.westernmassrlc.org/alternatives-to-suicide.

Poem: "In Love".

To the person I wish I could love,

Sometimes, I look up to the same stars,
Comparing them to the ones in your gaze
Yes, the gaze I’d never known
The gaze I long for,
The very looks I wish we could share across a crowded room
The eyes I’ve seen so many times when I go to sleep
Assuring me with glances that all is well with the world

Sometimes, when I am alone,
I twist and untwist my fingers,
Wondering if you do the same?
Do you pretend to hold my hand too?

Or is that awful?
Is that weird?
Is that abnormal for a person to be imagining?

Sometimes, when the nights are the coldest
I like to imagine you’re here at my side
That we share pleasant memories
That maybe, just maybe, I am not as alone as I picture myself to be

Dearest muse that eludes my quill,

Do you like the words I pour out of my veins?
The ink that smears across the paper,
Carved out of my very soul with all the tenderness of a martyr

Do you?
Can you?
Will you?

Will there never be satisfaction in the sentiments you spin,
The critiques you spit
The woes you slur
How – when – tell me,
What will please you?
These words are all I can regard you with
In inspiration,
In adoration,
In all of it

To the one staring back in the mirror,
You needn’t look so far for love after all

Free-Write: "Null."

Perhaps if I could infect those G R E A T E R than myself
I would feel a little worth more than the useless L E S S than myself,

It was similar to a beggar seeking yet another bottom of an endless bottle.
It was similar to a beast clawing its way back for another needle.
It was similar to a misanthropic nurse who pulled the tourniquet too tight and left you to suffocate.

Maybe if I watched them seize enough,
If I watched them grapple unwittingly,
Wantonly,
Stupidly,
For all these things long enough,
Maybe I would understand then,
They’d told me.

Did they,
Each of them who told me to pass a bottle or one needle too strong,
Forget that I was raised by the same lies &. same faces?
The same tender hands that would sooner be fists &. gauntlets than a kind touch?
The same swirling voices that spoke so beautifully in a tongue of miasma that was laced with false promises?
The same accusations &. screams that gaslight my terrors throughout the years?

“Addictive personality”,
I think,
Can mean many things these days.

It will not mean I will fall to their plight,
I will not be marked down on some crumbling epitaph in the same manner.

I believe it means they are all too engaged in this pretense of “vulnerability” I exude,
As false a claim as this is,
And if they really wish to see what M E N T A L is,
They have yet to see it.

If they want to taste morphine, they will have it;
Slow like a kindling burn aching in their souls and marrow.

If they want to have heroine, they will have it;
Cauterizing every atrium and ventricle in them until they are fit to burst at the seams.

… Laughable, at best, to compare my own personality to drugs
However,
A misanthropic nurse has to do what they do B E S T.

Gay Poets Society

We want to end National Poetry Month with a lasting impact so this is a new group that will be starting on Thursday, April 27th 2017 in Norwalk, Connecticut. Please feel free to drop by at our first meeting which will be at
Café Aroma
55 Wall Street. , Norwalk , CT.

Desired Outcomes:

* -Give LGBT individuals of all ages who benefit from the community an alternative for self expression and creativity
* -Connect poet enthusiast and amateurs through socialization and community
* -Craft and coordinate activities that are beneficial to members- coffee house, open house, Pride in the Park, youth group, performance, open mic, etc.,
* -Use poetry as a way to drive creative interest in writing, art, film etc.
* -Educate and inspire aspiring poets
* -Inspire members to express their feelings and difficulties so that they can heal and better themselves in a safe and non-judgemental environment
* -Embrace our identity, culture and shared commitments and communications
* -Encourage the use of poetry as a therapeutic skill
* -Form a community of LGBT poets
* -Develop an album of poetry from community members who may or may not self publish

Facilitator Contact
Information:
Edward Lent
Email: edwardlent@icloud.com

For more information, visit: https://www.meetup.com/meetup-group-NdOxnlyA/events/239211702/?isFromReg=true

My New Project: "Ellis Peace 2.0"

So I have been talking to a few people about starting a poetry group [with an LGBT focus]. It’s finally the time to get back to my roots and I am super excited. I am hoping that people get a chance to bring their stories together and in a collective effort we can inspire each other. Because that’s what poetry is about.

But before I go any further about the group, I want to share a little about my background doing poetry because this is meaningful to me.

Writing has always been my outlet to let out what’s going inside when I had no one to talk to. From writing, I developed this tremendous interest in poetry. The ability to express deep emotions in very conservative language was very fascinating. I used poetry to express thoughts that at times, only I could understand. If I wrote it, I can go back and read it and understand very clearly what I meant. In a sense, it was code writing. It was my privacy.

But the therapeutical aspect of poetry for me has transitioned from the damning relationship I had with my father to discovering my sexuality and dealing with it in school and finally, just finding a place in this world, in writing about topics on religion, politics, you name it. I just used poetry to open my eyes to the things that I am thinking about. Sometimes, it’s only after I write something that I really realize what I am thinking about.

I became a part of a poetry group called Ellis Peace when I was 12 years, just after starting high school… about 10 years ago. Everyone in the group was much older than me. Most of them were retired and they found this amazing group where everyone wrote poems for personal reasons, for books they were publishing, the local newspaper and so forth. I was learning but I found a place where I got to do what I love. I was never judged. These people were mature and experienced. They had seen the ins and outs of life. I remember how this helped me to cope. Writing poetry helped me out of depression and reading my poems, helped me to fight my anxiety. Sadly, the group slowed down after many years after the host had a stroke. She was in stable condition for some time but she managed to host a final group a few months before I migrated here.

I still have a lot of those poems that I wrote when I was 13 or 14 years old, I shared some below.

The virtue of discomfort

Life has worn happiness
It has worn greatness
It has worn delicacy
It has worn joviality

It has worn Charm,
It has been calm
It has been unpredictable
And yes it has been incredible.

But most of all, in all its lust,
It has worn disgust,
It has worn fright
It has been a seemingly an unending fight

Life had been the quintessence of dispassion,
It carries a heavy bag of decision
It weighs heavily on disappointments
And falls short on privileges

But when the day ends,
I ponder on sunrise,
When Sadness appears,
I ponder upon Happiness

For I know the reason why,
Why sometimes laughter and sometimes whimper travels by,
We were given birth
To face what life is worth,

It is not a Cosmo of just merriment
But also of experiment,
For life would be nonsense
If it was simple in all its essence.

Amazingly, this was one of my very first poems, re-reading it brings back so many memories. I remember reading this poem and being asked why I wrote it. I didn’t have a full answer. But now I know exactly what it meant. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Life was a mess, LOL. It’s sort of still is, LOL but this was around the time that I began to learn about my sexuality. I was still dealing my father’s abuse but I was beginning to realize that I was in even bigger trouble. I felt terrible.

I remember how scared I was about writing poems about my father. Back to the ‘code’ idea. But I did write a few and the poem below was a reminder to myself that I was worth something. I have struggled with my self-esteem, but it’s amazing this is how I was able to use poetry to bring so many things to meaning. Today, these poems mean more to me than they did back then.

You are…

Here today and gone tomorrow…
There is an end to everyday

But you are not bound to seas and lakes
But you are bound to the abundance of existence

You are not fingers or toes
Or eyes or nose
But you are an infinite powerful soul

You are a sailor,
Who travels deep seas
You are a soul
That faces a great unknown

You are powerful
You are an everlasting conscious being
You are an answer without a question asked
You are a story with no end

But back to the whole idea of this post, I am really hoping to do what I have been doing for so many years. I want to get back to writing serious poems while working with others. Poetry can be a private thing but it can also be a community effort. I think that we become ourselves once we share who we really are with the world. While we may not only focus on poetry but writing and other expressions, I hope to make this a family thing. That is how successful poetry become life, we bring our stories into it.

So, I am super excited about this. I have been working really hard on getting it started and I can’t wait for it to be.

Recovery Community Open Mic

Hey everyone! Check out this KOOL Open Mic event on June 24th in Bridgeport, CT.

Its a free event hosted by CCAR, BRCC and YAF at the Bridgeport Recovery Community Center. Please the see flyer below.
This is an opportunity for all young adults in recovery to express themselves and their perspectives through music, poetry, spoken, you name it!

The event is open to ALL… bring family and friends and get ready for a sober afternoon.