That’s What She Said

Ethereal and reality and ethereality,

Is Heaven real?

“Hell on earth”,

That’s what she said.


The life he lived

And shared with me

Was enough hell for eternity.

Etherealize? Hah!


The reality of it is this,

Thoughts of heaven provide escape

From the hell of living with you

That this life is.

Handcrafted poetry by John Hines, 8/23/2015

Written this summer while contemplating the marriage of Leopold Bloom and his wife Molly as I experienced a first reading of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Lost Memories

The scene was dark and dusty,

Full of thought gone rusty,

As disease set in.


Neurons fired, Synapses tired,

Thoughts unwired,

Lost, never to be thought again.

Handcrafted poetry by John Hines, 01/04/2016

These verses slipped into the series of Ulysses poems ( and I’ve been writing.  It seemed to stand on its own so here it stands.  It represents the feelings I experienced at my father’s hospital bed during the final months he suffered from terminal dementia before his passing at the end of last year.

The loss felt was multifold.  I watched my dad lose himself while we tried to capture shared memories both made and never made for father and son due to choices of separation made after a youthful divorce. There is something about multiple divorces by parents in one’s youth that creates a sense of loss as one lives.  Losing dad to losing memory to loss of life is the feeling spoken here.

Hey Ulysses! Pt I

Can’t help voicin’ it,

Been James Joycen’ it,

Just sitting around this old home.


In my hands this blue-green book and brew,

Longing for the return of Who

Knows? Streams of consciousness float…Ulysses.


“You still James Joycen’ it?”

Mama shivered and said,

“It’s far past time you put your own voice in it.”


My own voice?

My voice? My voice?

What is this noise?

Your voice, my voice, her voice, his voice.


Words uttered, not written,

Thoughts still shuttered,

Like new windows in the rain.


Rain, train of thought,

Thoughts trained to think,

Thoughts untrained to think can think.


Thoughts can sink,

Thoughts have sunk,

Many a ship not sailed on the sea.


Power of thought,

Thoughts of power,

Thunderous clouds,

Bring showers of rain, a soft rain shower.


Shower of power, thunderous shower

Reign down on me so the rest of the world

Sees what I can see.


What I can see? What can I see?

Thoughts not thought

Equal thoughts unseen.


Rein these thoughts, Oh, they try,

Train these thoughts that lie

In wait for breath of orange October sky.


Orange bliss of sun melts into soulful sea

Sea’s white foam folds around soul’s feet,

Metes and bounds no more define the lines

For this prepossessing spiritual infinitude.

Handcrafted poetry by John Hines, 01/03/2015

Hey Ulysses! Pt III

Same thought twice?

Naughty thoughts, not nice,

Can it happen thrice?

Three days ago, thoughts on ice.


Onslaught of thought,

Slaughtered thoughts gone wry,

Shifty thoughts say Good-bye

At death’s door.


No longer at war

With thoughts escaping

Mind torn, thoughts raping

No more attempts at thought shaping.


Escaping or eloping?

Married to thought or

Divorced from lost words

Uttering the absurd.


As death’s door opens

Closing a chapter, opening a new

Thoughts erased

No more thoughts misplaced.


Thoughts traveling

Through mind’s cavernous sinew,

Gasping for words like last gasps for air,

Were those thoughts ever even there?


Goodbye, so long,

Please forgive,

The pressure is on now to live,

Cheers to the Living, Go live!

Handcrafted poetry by John Hines

This poem was written while reading James Joyce’s Ulysses this summer ( and I like to think of it and the other parts of it as my “reading response” to Joyce.  The voluminous, blue-green, formerly banned book of start reading and not finish reputation had called to me off and on from the shelves of my local Barnes & Noble and through references in other reads.

It was Oliver Sacks and his autobiography, On the Move that pushed me to take the final plunge.  Sacks described his experience with Ulysses during a ferry ride from Norway back to England in the early pages of On the Move. Sacks writes: “I had my book to read–I was reading Ulysses, very slowly–and my aquavit to sip: nothing like the taste of alcohol to warm one inside.”  He describes how he became so absorbed in his book that he “failed to note the passage of time.”

I made the plunge and finished Ulysses as the new school year began.  I also read Dubliners and Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man as I took pauses from Ulysses. All three volumes by Joyce join War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov on my expanding list of lifelong rereads.