All this Living, All This Hurting

photo courtesy of Trish Crapo
Joshua Michael Stewart is a poet and musician who has had poems published in the Massachusetts Review, Salamander, Plainsongs, Brilliant Corners, and many others.
His books are, Break Every String, (Hedgerow Books, 2016) and, The Bastard Children of Dharma Bums, (Human Error Publishing, 2020).
His albums, Three Meditations, and Ghost in the Room, can be found on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, and many other platforms. Visit his web site at, or better yet, interact with him at 
For this column Joshua will explore poetry, music, and Buddhism, and how they all intersect with each other. He will delve into assorted poetic forms and he will specifically highlight contemporary poets from the New England area, and the poets associated with classical Japanese and Chinese poetry. 

It is with great pleasure I announce that I’ve once again have had the joy to collaborate with my confrere and M The Media Project associate, Bret M. Herholz. You of course also know him as one of the hosts of the podcast The Mental Suppository Podcast.

Bret and I collaborated on a new “Video Poem” of one of the poems from my forthcoming collection, Love Something. It is being published by Main Street Rag Publishing It’s due to be released later this year and will sell for $15 + shipping, but you can get it for $9+ by placing an advance discount order at the MSR Online Bookstore before it goes to press.

 Here’s a link directly to my author’s page:

Here is also the poem featured in the new video poem:


Mother, you’ve been gone a year.

I still have the screenshot from the last time we zoomed, 

your eyes dull with cataracts, a medical mask dangling

from your right ear, the shirt made for a ten-year-old girl 

slipping off your shoulders. 

Mother, are you with Frank, has he settled down, or is he raising 

hell in Heaven like he did back on Earth and in our hearts?

Mother, is he finally happy? Are you happy?

Is your father there? Did you confront him, demand he tell you why

he did what we all know he did? Does it matter anymore?

Mother, is Grandma there, is Aunt Donna, Aunt Rose?

Have you started the bed-and-breakfast you guys 

jawed about over coffee and Marlboros?

Do you remember the last day we spent together,

            September 16, 2019?

How I commandeered a wheelchair

from the nurses’ station and we sat wheel-to-wheel, 

watching but not really watching game shows?

Do you remember how I wrote out the alphabet

on a yellow legal pad, and you’d point

to the fat letters with your red nails, painted 

by the young CNA you smiled wide for 

every time she’d walk into your room?

Mother, do you remember the disease that held

            your voice captive, that wouldn’t be satisfied 

`                       until it took all of you?

Are you allowed to forget all you wish to forget?

Do you remember when you spelled out,

Do I deserve this?

I understood your question, wondering

if you drank the Parkinson’s into existence.

What did I tell you?

A younger, more vindictive me 

would’ve told you, yes.

Are you still worried?

I’ve told you, no.

Please, stop asking. 

Does it matter anymore—

all that living, all that hurting? 

All week my apartment’s been inundated with flies, 

twenty years I’ve lived here without a problem, 

and now for three days they’ve been flying drunk 

against my windows, swarming the lightbulb 

above the stove—three days, I spent killing 106 flies,

            flushed down the toilet. 

Mother, did you send them?


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