The Poet-Shaman

“Silence, the poet is behind me.”

In August 2004, Chris Al-Aswad, founder of Escape Into Life, was living in Normal, Illinois, watching college students arrive or return for their fall semester and “working very hard to make myself into something.” He was meditating, thinking, reading, and writing. In pencil, he began a journal dedicated to poetry that, instead, became a place for musing. “Silence,” he wrote in pencil, “the poet is behind me.” Then he took up his pen to say:

Pen at least has a chance for posterity. The begging inside of me, to lay down my will; the battle goes on even when the soldiers aren’t fighting. A period of peace within one’s soul. And then the manifestations return. The imagination is born out of man’s discontent. The unsatisfactory life out there causes man to go inside, and the poet-shaman traverses between the two territories….

…So my moods change, so my thoughts come and go. Then what stays, what stays awake when I lay my head down to rest? When I evolve, what cannot and does not evolve? Night occurs again and again, yet I claim this night hasn’t happened yet. Tomorrow is a new day. My consciousness is new; my mind is somewhat closer to its original Mother.


Art prints, Behind and Looking Through, by Maria Oliva Tyra

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