When Tom Lombardo's wife lost her life in an auto accident in 1985, he was left "a widower in my early 30s. . . . Reading poetry gave me solace during the early stages of my grief." Later he turned to writing poetry himself. "My first poems dismantled whatever blocks I had constructed, and from that point, I visited my grief and wrote."
Lombardo--a WebMD founder who lives in Atlanta--created an anthology of contemporary poetry to aid in the journey. As editor, he writes, "I searched for poems in all categories that contained a message of recovery through the language of poetry: Grief, War, Exile, Abuse, Divorce, Addiction, Injury, Illness, Bigotry, Loss of Innocence."
"After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events" ($19.95 in paperback from Sante Lucia Books), available at Lyon Books in Chico, collects work from 115 poets and fifteen nations. Included are pieces by three northstate residents.
Skyway poet Joy Harold Helsing writes in "Turnabout" about an abusive relationship: "I scream without sound / till my throat burns // Imagine he's small / my therapist urges / the way you felt // I picture him shrunken / six inches high / a dictator doll. . . ."
Grass Valley poet Gail Rudd Entrekin, in "Michelle," writes of a woman who tells the story of a man she saw beat his child and of the police who didn't come "until after the two had driven away." She laughs "inexplicably." "Leaving the restaurant, someone / holds the door for her. People fall back / and away, avoiding her circle of despair. / But two women who know she has lost a child, / walk close, their hands gently touching / her back, taking her arms, leaning their / warm bodies into hers."
Patricia Wellingham-Jones, who helps direct the writing group at the Enloe Cancer Center in Chico (see http://tinyurl.com/9w5alr for an interview), writes in "Your Shoes," "Barbara the Hospice nurse / tossed your shoes / under my office chair / when we carried your body / wrapped in your sheets / out to the gurney / I feel comforted every time I look / at those shabby shoes. . . ."
Comfort, after shocks, may come in the smallest of ways.