Stay Alive/Outsider

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Psalm 34:18

STAY ALIVE (you can't save your soul...)

Trying to piece the heart back together
All the right words that come out wrong
Somewhere between hope and brokenness
Speaking of love when it just feels like a song

Bring us back from mere words and into reality
When circumstances are lies
Chains are an illusion when you don't know that you're free
We're still learning to open our eyes

The story tells of our darkest hour
When it all adds up as if to say
We're starved for the light and looking for power
When the sun doesn't quite shine bright enough today

Separated by time, miles, and silence
On the other-side of a world away
One's perspective is another's blindness
When one's sense of color is another's sense of gray

Break from the pattern
Just tell it like it is
How did everything we know
Decay to ruin and end up like this

Trying to write a letter to save another life
To tell you that you are not alone
As I speak of faith in the face of uncertainty
Finding and yet still searching for home

When your heart breaks
My heart is breaking for you
When every breath hurts and you're doing what it takes
But you're still trying to convince yourself of what you know is true

I feel it, but I deny its right to tell me what to believe
When it's all we can do to muster the courage
Heart like a broken compass, lost for desire's divided

I've been there when everything fails
And it's all you can do to just survive
But even when it hurts to keep on breathing
I promise you it's worth it if you just stay alive

Years and distance between us
I know what it's like on the other-side of those walls
You feel like a captive in a place you seek to be restored

Hopelessness is a lie contrived of heartsickness
For hopes deferred when it all feels meaningless
You'll find something on the other-side of nothingness

When life feels like an empty promise
Through the filter projected of you
Confidence is a shaky foundation
Forget the affliction when it's all you can do

After our ways are exhausted
And we've made an understatement of truth
Reveling in the vainglory of misery
When death is all you know and your sin is the proof

Every stone cast is the way you judge yourself
After the esteem of your pride becomes debt to conscience's toll
And you're crying out for help
Dying on the inside, you realize, you can't save your soul...

Inspiration: As Iíd mentioned in a prior description, everything I write, while it may be for a specific audience, is written just as much to me as them. This poem is no exception to the rule in that it was written for my younger brother who struggled with drugs and was in and out of Teen Challenge which is a drug rehabilitation organization. This poem doesnít delve quite as much into the subject of the vice itself but just speaks to generally relating with what itís like to be an addict. Whether youíre a puppet of substance abuse or sexual sin abuse, thereís an underlying sense of hopelessness that our vices aim to medicate and yet instigate at the same time. The mindset he was in is what I was speaking most to; for one we were living in two separate states, and two it was written amidst hearing of his attempted suicide by way of drug overdose. It wasnít the first time heíd made an attempt on his life or wound up in the hospital as a result of an overdose.

Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brotherís eye.

Matthew 7:5


Abandoned on the other side of strong willed silence
The proud have no apologetic offering
Undone and I've no accusation to utter

Coerced into a position
Working to gain compromised approval
Say your piece and let the wounds become a bitter marinade
With all the flavor of the pain to be a lesson taught

Motivated by self-projected inadequacy
Sheltering insecurity in vanity
To achieve a house but suffocate a sense of home

For all that money and reputation can buy
No amount of anything we earn can turn back time
For all the riches of a first world sacrifice
And all the honor of our temporal war hero stories
We cannot buy back the moments we squander
Or the heart be compensated by material things when broken

As correction of perspective turns to vengeance
Mistaken enemies are friendly fire targets
Subjected to the will of another to pick a fight
Bullied into nothing more than a verbal punching bag

Our voices bleed the same
Rise to defend the perpetuated heartsick behavior
Put me in my place, because age comes with answers
Condemn me in my ignorance and tell me how right you are

Whether we are young or old enough to know better
Wisdom contrived of failure lashes out
And I'm an outsider again
We are both of us a far cry from innocent

I've lost you for my words
Yet you've lost me for your silence
When there is no calm after the storm
Just tension built up through filters of unspoken resentment

My heart put on trial to come up with a defense
My character in question scrutinized through your eyes
As if everything you see is by way of an untainted perspective
Or uninfluenced by bias

Bigger man persuasions, how do you prove it?
Whether your loud enough to drown me out
And bull dog me into seeing it your way
Shut me up and let's just go with what you say

Offering to make amends and salvage hope
Held accountable to what grace we worship
Pull on the call of us to become better men
As we see ourselves
Apart from the lies of action that don't equate to conviction

Is there anything I have to give
When all you want is an ear with lips sewn shut
And a thousand reasons to look down on me

Shut me down and give me a taste of my own medicine
As our method to cure becomes the ailment
I humble myself and plead for forgiveness from the guilty
As we go on pretending you've got it all together

Is my motive to reconcile tainted
In my effort to bow out and give you the upper hand
Despite the fact there's as much blood on yours as mine
Yet you've a lifetime of sins on me
With more to preach and less to learn
Set in ways relative to blind trends of worldly wisdom

Tell me what's right and entitle me to nothing
I can't win for losing when I reside beneath the tyranny of your pedestal
What's the worth of it when pride is a lonely mountain top?

Inspiration: While many of my poems are inspired or perhaps triggered by a single individual there is often an entire slew of people that come to mind when reading certain lines. The funny thing is even if Iím angry with a person that may have inspired my writing at the time that I wrote the piece I often realize after I vent in the moment how much of my embittered perception was based in assumptions and perhaps more deeply rooted in something that person may remind me of. While I write with specific people in mind on various topics and often say things that are just as much self-incriminating as they are prosecuting in the trial of my own mind, the underlying issue and frustrations voiced I realize are less about anyone specifically but just the heart issue within humanity generally.

What inspired the direction I went with this poem specifically was getting into it with a father figure in my life and some raw assumptions about him minced with perhaps unvoiced resentments of my own perception about my real dad. Iíve been hesitant in times past about revealing too much specifically about what a poem is about or who inspired it but I suppose I feel as Iíve grown past the mindsets that were in these former works and my relationship with my real dad is no longer where it was in the fractured mess of mutual misunderstandings. Itís never been my heart to intentionally exploit anyone I love in any way but just write honestly about what I feel and whatever Iím going through at any given moment without shaming or tainting peopleís point of view of anyone in my life.
I guess this points back to my nature of prone to be self-censoring when it comes to not putting things out there in their most vulnerable forms for the simple fact that although it may hit home with many, I donít want to frame anyone in a negative light. My words should never be taken as truth on anything or anyone outside of that which aligns with scripture, just honest rantings of a heart learning to beat through its own turmoil. Some of these poems hold not nearly as much weight as when they first were written. Many lines in this poem again relate and briefly discuss many things but I think the underlying commonality in the message coming through is pride.

Whether it is the pride of angsty youth or the pride of older men set in their ways to the point of assuming a younger generation has little or nothing to offer, there seems to be a certain amount of prejudice in the underestimation of age and on the other hand a lack of respect for the wisdom of years. The rub is that a personís sense of wisdom is still relative to their own experience, whether young or old. Knowledge associated with experience should not automatically be assumed wise, because experience still goes through the filter of oneís beliefs and interpretation about that experience, and as a result many may even be misguided by the pride of their own perception.

The last thing Iíll say on this poem is that the title is the key to unlocking more about what is all being said in it. ďOutsiderĒ has to do with seeking for a sense of belonging while wrestling with the mindsets of others and the ways I have felt a bit out cast through the exile of superiority complexes. Sometimes Iíve felt a bit on the outside looking in when it came to family, both biologically speaking and the family I married into. A lot of this, as I said, doesnít hold as much weight as it used to when it comes to the initial inspiration, but I felt necessary to include for those that may relate in some way.
Written by cloventongue89 (Nathaniel Peter)
Author's Note
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