Friday, November 19, 2004

In Memoriam

In memoriam: This is from a friend and fellow poet, Ron Horne about the passage of a light in poetry, Ana Rose, also known as Phoenix. This touched me because we don't talk about depression. I'm old enough to remember Donnie Hathaway (R&B singer, Roberta Flack duets) and his similar demise.

We don't as a culture like to talk about depression or suicide. It's unfortunate that many creative types like Donnie Hathaway, Curt Cobain (Nirvana) and Phoenix feel that they have no hope when their words have given people so many memories; so much to live for.

A reminder: give your flowers to your friends in THIS life!

My Brothers and Sisters in Poetry-

The news filtered up to me here in Austin that a Sun Poet, Ana Rose, aka Phoenix, took her life on Friday, leaping from the roof of an office building in San Antonio. Phoenix was a young woman, 30 years old or so, bright, bubbling, full of life and always out supporting both poets and musicians. She could be found at poetry venues and band gigs throughout San Antonio as well as on the road. She was a kind and caring spirit.

In her wake are the common questions: why did she do it, who knew she was that desperate, if I had only known, if I only had . . . . There are probably many things many of us could have done, but without really knowing her strife, there is little any one could have done . . . However, as members of a very unique family, the family of poetry and verse, we could have spoken to her, and others like her, both directly and through our art, to let her know that we have ALL been in desperate situations and that there is ALWAYS someone to turn to, even if only for a moment. The closeness and support we have in the poetry community is tighter than some people have in their biological families. We have the unique ability to reach out through our art to touch those around us, to let them know that as bad as it may seem, the beauty of what we do can bring something positive to their lives.

It pains me to know this young life was lost in despair. None of us are mind readers so there is only so much we can do. But let’s try to remind each other as often as we can that every time a day ends, on the next day new life begins. With that, I present two poems in honor of the Phoenix; may her spirit arise in all of us. I send this to you in the hope that between all of us, wherever we are, we don’t let another bird of paradise get away:


They say that every Phoenix rises
But when life provides no compromises
It should come as no surprise
That a Phoenix is nothing more . . . than a sparrow
Seeking crumbs on narrow streets
Flying from the tip of tall buildings
To the hard concrete
Succumb to defeat
Rather than suffer the constant struggle

The battle of tug of war
Is just a metaphor
Where there can only be one winner
The kind and compassionate
Are the perpetually condemned sinners
Heartache the blood thinner
That turns cool breezes into artic winds
Causes a young life to rescind
Her covenant with her glory
To hear she took her life
Tore me and all that knew her apart
Didn’t she know that the community of art
And love covet her departure?
Because now only the angels will know
Why the Phoenix flew away

Ron Horne


She came to be known as Phoenix
But I first knew her as Rose
And little did I know
That she was in the throes
Of a struggle with life and death

So on that humid August night
As we all skinny dipped
How could I know that in her mind
The scales would tip
And she would slip
Down a slope
That at its depth lacked the hope
She needed to keep going

How could I know that
As she placed her tiny hand in mine
The cosmic design
Had a disturbing fate in place
Where she paced back and forth
Between the door to existence
And the door to extinction
To learn that she found not distinction
Between the two

Leaves me to ponder
My own bouts with suicidal ideation
Those times where I lamented whether
My own creation was a mistake
Ready to preclude another candle
Impaling my birthday cake
Break the cycle of constant misery
That seemed to plague me daily
Yes, if it weren’t for poetry
I would have missed the gallantry
Of my son’s well and hard fought triumphs
I would have forgotten the fact that it is enough
To be loved without necessarily being the beloved
That the joy of life is toughing it out
Long enough to see the BIG picture

So, as the regret flows
The fire in me grows
To spend life on my tip toes
Reaching for the light that glows
She came to be know as Phoenix
But to me, she was a perennial Rose

Ron Horne

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