a new tanka: Dementia Blues

Dementia Blues
A tanka written after a holiday party at Parkview

Brain cell by brain cell
You’re disappearing from me
I’m alone again

How hard it must be for you
Disappearing from yourself

© Ken Chawkin
December 8, 2013
Fairfield, Iowa, USA

Related: An Unwanted Guest

The Curse of Dementia: On watching a loved one diminish before your eyes, poem by Ken Chawkin

Sitting with Sally: 5-haiku poem

Rage Against the Disease

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15 Responses to “a new tanka: Dementia Blues”

  1. Steve Verney Says:

    Ken – that pierces my heart and mind and I’m left in awe of you.


    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Margot Says:

    Wanting to add this here which Tom Morgan posted just today on his Facebook site:

    The Lover is ever drunk with love; He is free, he is mad, He dances with ecstasy and delight.

    Caught by our own thoughts, we worry about every little thing, But once we get drunk on that love, Whatever will be, will be.

    ~Mevlana Jelaludin Rumi


    • Ken Chawkin Says:

      “But once we get drunk on that love, Whatever will be, will be.”

      True, but I’m not drunk yet, not even mildly intoxicated right now. Sometimes the glass is empty. Nothing to be concerned about. Just another part of the dance. Everything is as it’s supposed to be. We just have to learn to accept it. When we get used to things, and they change, then we suffer, because we can’t let go. Who knows what miracles are being worked out behind the scenes? That’s where faith and trust come in. As long as we don’t believe “our own thoughts.”


      • Margot Says:

        Great reply! Then I know you are safe, Ken.

        Just read this from 1957 by Anandamayi Ma:
        You dwell in the world of nature (prakrit jagat) where one views everything according to the spectacles worn over one’s eyes. So long as one lives in the realm of form and quality, one is bound to be subjected to the opposites of happiness and pain. In the world of nature there does exist this interplay between joy and sorrow. The Lord stages a play, Himself playing all the parts. The world is created by a mere stroke of God’s imagination. In the Upanishads it is explained that the mouth does not eat, the feet do not walk — He alone exists. He transcends ‘maya’ and yet appears subjected to it. He is playing according to His will.

        Try to become single-minded, mindless as it were. You can either take the path of neti, neti, “not this, not that,” or the path of “Thou art this, Thou art that.” He who takes care of everybody is the one and only Brahman. Räma, Krishna, Kãli, all represent the same Being, everything is contained in each. If you look upon a tree as divine, God will be revealed even there. Where is God not? The One-With-Quality (saguna) becomes Himself the quality. For the sake of His play He assumes the guise of ‘maya’.

        Perfect vision denotes omniscience, while happiness that depends on anything is bound to change into sorrow. When a child is born, everybody rejoices, but when he dies, there is grief. If happiness is derived from wife, son, home or any thing of the world, distress will follow without fail. Where complete independence of circumstances is, there alone can be perfect happiness. When the relationship of a servant to the Lord has been established, this indeed is happiness. Vigraha (Concrete External Presence as Form) means acceptance in a special form. Essentially Han (God) and the jiva are not separate. Looked at from a certain angle, who is it that is born? There is in fact no birth. To acknowledge birth is to bow to ignorance. All worldly relationship, be it that of friend or foe, is based on one’s attitude of mind.

        Human birth is extremely difficult to obtain. If man so wills, he can get rid of the veil of ignorance in his lifetime and realize God. The desire to know God is the natural desire of a jiva. A human being does not want to remain ignorant because in reality he is the embodiment of Knowledge, of Peace. You do not relish falsehood; you crave for truth since you are in fact Truth in essence. Tread the path leading to God, His grace is pouring forth perpetually. The reason why you are not aware of it, is that you are holding your vessel upside down and so His grace continually flows away. Keep your vessel the right side up and it will fill to overflowing.

        This body, being a mere child, calls everybody father or mother. You have deigned to give her darshana. You must all try to realize your Self. This body does not exhort you to forsake your homes and families and live in the forest. Wher­ever you may reside is the abode of God. Do not consider yourself the master of your house, merely its manager. There is no knowing when the call may come for a manager. God is present within everybody. We are all His servants, the managers of His temples. By all means continue to do service in the householder’s ashrama, Serve your son as Gopal, look upon your wife as an embodiment of the divine Mother. Ever keep the name of the Lord in your mind; anything else that you may do apart from this, will not give you complete peace. You must attend to the work of your Atma.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jack Forem Says:

    Thank you, Ken. I absolutely hate that this has to be written, but very much appreciate your sending it. It’s very moving.



    • Ken Chawkin Says:

      It’s a slow almost unperceptible process. They tell me she’s still alert and responsive throughout the day. Guess it depends on when I’m there and how we’re both feeling. But, yes, I had to write it, sooner or later. It had to write me.


  4. Richard Says:

    Dear Ken

    I have no words for you but love.


  5. An Unwanted Guest | The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] Related: a new tanka: Dementia Blues […]


  6. Vicki Broome Says:

    I think it takes an amazing person with an established sense of Self and huge knowledge of human nature to be so intimate and self disclosing with the whole world.

    I think your love must have been a very precious thing in her life- in the past and now too


    • Ken Chawkin Says:

      Thank you, Vicki. Can’t help being open and honest, sharing the ups and the downs. Nice of you to say that. It’s a mutual precious thing – from Vedic times to now. Love truly is eternal. We just forget.


    • Margot Says:

      Ken was and is the absolute angel in her life!!!! He absolutely is – and much reward will come from his wonderful love and service to her. He pleased all the laws of nature.


  7. This Quiet Love, a #LovePoem from Kenny, for Sally on #ValentinesDay | The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] An Unwanted Guest came to live with us. Eventually we would have to live apart, which lead to the Dementia Blues. But Sally’s Smile would continue to uplift me and all those around her. Many changes continue to […]


  8. The Curse of Dementia: On watching a loved one diminish before your eyes, poem by Ken Chawkin | The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] Related: An Unwanted Guest and Dementia Blues […]


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