She Died in Front of the Lincoln Memorial

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She Died in Front of
the Lincoln Memorial

Medicine poetry is intuitive and comes from the heart,
not the head.

When I was on the young side of life, I wanted to be a poet and a writer. As time passed, I became a writer, largely because acquiring left-brain skills were essential if I were to obtain graduate degrees and teach at a university and institute. My poet self never emerged beyond what came through in some of my academic and personal writing.

Recently, I was introduced to “medicine poetry” in Stephen Levine’s book, Becoming Kuan Yin: The Evolution of Compassion. Kuan Yin urges her students to write medicine poetry, saying, “The right word at the right time is strong medicine.” She explains that medicine poetry is intuitive and comes from the heart, not the head – “How quiet one must be – a single thought can muffle it.” Medicine poetry heals us, whether we write it or read it.

Kuan Yin’s teachings about medicine poetry prompted my poet self to awaken. I mustered the courage and self-confidence to take pen to paper and write poetry. To write medicine poetry, one must abandon all thoughts and merge with feelings, never knowing what the poem will say or how it will evolve. The intent is to focus on the heart and express authentic feelings, whether of pain or of glory. Once the poem is completed, the poet experiences the effect of the “medicine” – a calm and peace. One’s truth has been spoken, one’s truth has been heard. Genuine truth of one’s feelings releases the pain.

I have decided to share one of my medicine poems with you, a poem that expresses the intense pain I feel for our country – the pain of self-forgetting, the pain of polarization, the pain of focusing on self at the expense of the greater good of humanity and the planet. The poem bypassed my head as it flowed from my heart. At its conclusion, I felt at peace, as I had released my pain by speaking a genuine truth of my feelings.

She Died in Front of the Lincoln Memorial

Abraham Lincoln
Man of destiny
Massive presence
In repose
Gripping the chair
Gazing the distance
Penetrating the past
Studying the present
Searching for
The bigger picture
The now, the then, the when

I come
Emblazoned by marble
Showered by charisma
To confirm the death
Of his creation
The unity of diversity
The diversity of unity

A nurse
Called to his side
Are not nurses
Their pictures
Their names
Though history
Has recorded
I was there
With him
That day
Wiping his brow
Smoothing covers
Dabbing his lips
With water
Turned holy

I stand
Before him
150 years
He sobs
His dream nearly silenced
His brow
Half shut

With love
With honor
I grieve
I crumble
Wishing escape
From today’s States
Only a whispered

Greater Good
Joined as One
Meant everything
Not to be

My Friend
Dies again
For our country
I, too,
I died
In front of
The Lincoln Memorial


Select an issue or topic in your life that you would like to heal using medicine poetry.  Write the name of your topic at the top of a blank sheet of paper or on a blank page in your journal.  Have pen and paper nearby. Meditate for several minutes.

Place your awareness in your heart.  When thoughts distract you, return to the silence of your heart’s awareness.

Allow the words to flow.  If the words cease, return to the silence within.

lotus leadership

Share with me what you experienced doing the Reflection exercise, or just say hello and let me know if you are finding my blog of value. 
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Reference: Stephen LevineBecoming Kuan Yin: the Evolution of Compassion. San Francisco: Weiser Books, 2013, pp 54, 111.

Photo Attribution: By Gregory F. Maxwell <> PGP:0xB0413BFA (By uploader) [GFDL 1.2 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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