Monday Night Poetry – Filling My Cup

March 23 2024

Monday Night Poetry filled my cup to overflowing! 🩷🩷🩷

Thank you Paolo, Isis, Levi, Jesse, Fredley, Caleb and a few others whose names I cannot remember (sorry!) for the hugs and holding space for me to share what I needed to share.

If you’ve followed my writing for some time, you know that I write to process life experiences. Nearly 100% of the time, I feel much better afterwards as it helps me to get on the other side of it.

Everyone at Monday Night Poetry instinctively understood that I was not asking for advice. I just needed to get this out of my head, heart, and body. And I needed comfort by way of hugs. That’s it.

I appreciate this wonderful group of creative folks so damn much! 💋💋💋


Poetry: Burn it to the Ground – Monday Night Poetry

September 9 2023

Monday Night Poetry – Thank you to my friends, Melinda and Fran, who surprised me with showing up!! It was so fun to see you two, and hang out together! The poetry shared by everyone was absolutely amazing! What a great night!

This is the first poem I’ve written with this tone, and with the specific intent of being spoken. I wanted to record myself performing it, but I just don’t feel like it. For those of you who have heard me speak, or had conversations with me, imagine this in my voice, with the emotion of a person who has had enough!

When I finished speaking this poem, I received the most applause I’ve received so far, with some commenting that I need to run for office. There just happened to be a campaign manager in the audience. Ha!

I’m not looking for advice. I’ve got everything figured out. This was written to help move through what I was feeling last Monday.

Trigger warning for mention of suicide, lots of cussing and if you work in the insurance industry, don’t take this personally (unless you are a higher up in the industry).

Burn it to the Ground

She said they had received the paperwork
It’s in review
There’s a 14 day turnaround
Unless it’s urgent
Urgent bumps it to a 24 hour turnaround

This had already been in limbo
For a month and a half I tell her

Approved visits were depleted
Authorization requested for more visits
Something not submitted,
Or filled out properly.

Each time submitted
There’s that fucking 14 day turnaround

I ask her
What would elevate this to urgent?
I tell her this has to do with mental health,
The person has an official diagnosis of major depression
One can’t say to suicidal thoughts,
“Hey, hold up now we’ve got to wait 14 days
Before we’re approved more visits with the therapist.”
That’s not how it works.

I’m placed on hold while
She speaks to the authorization department.
You see, I’m not “allowed” to speak
To the authorization department.
Only providers/doctors can do that.

Which is complete bullshit
And depends on who happens
To take your call.

How do I know this?
Because I called two weeks ago
To inquire about the hold-up
And I eventually got transferred
To the AUTHORIZATION department.

She comes back on the line
Authorization department
Says the provider can call
And tell them that the matter is urgent
This will escalate to a 24 hour turnaround.

Okay. I let the provider know this.
Has it been done?
Who knows?

Insurance in this country
Is a fucking load of bullshit.
Meant to wear us down
Confuse us, overwhelm us

I just happen to be one of those
That won’t give up
You cannot wear me down
I have a tenacity fueled
By the hammer of the gods
I will fight for what my family needs.
Many people can’t do this,
or don’t have the energy
To deal with the system.

A system that fucks over the
Actual people who need health care
Lining the pockets of those
Who need their pockets stripped clean
To take a walk on the side of those
Of us their screwing over.

You would have thought I received
Good news when I received notice
That the promotion I got in July
For a few more hours, and few more dollars
Also resulted in me being eligible for insurance benefits.

Let me tell you
There’s something seriously wrong
When you have to sit through a THREE fucking hour
Orientation to learn about these benefits

They making it so fucking confusing
It would almost be easier just to opt out
Of the whole racket.

So now this few dollar raise
Has bumped me over the limit to
Receive the crappy ass medicaid we’ve
Had for the past 13 years
Now I’ve got to choose between 4 fucking plans
That eat away at the few dollars raise I received

All with different levels of my contribution
Co-insurance, deductibles,
It’s plenty enough to make an ADHD brain fucking explode.

So, yes, we need to burn it all to the ground
Start from scratch again.
Simple, easy

One shouldn’t have to have the tenacity
Of 20 people, a college degree
Or a non-chaotic mind to figure this shit out.

Fuck off insurance companies!

**Since writing and performing this poem, I received word that insurance DENIED more therapist visits. To say I was filled with intense rage is putting it lightly.

I will appeal but in the meantime, I will be paying out of pocket for visits that happened during this two month period. How can you look at a person who has an official diagnosis of Major Depression with suicidal thoughts and then DENY their fucking therapist visits?

I am seriously done with being kind. Those in the insurance industry who make the damn guidelines can pack it. May it always rain on them whenever they leave their home, may all their food taste like rotten lemons, and may they be forever constipated.

The Gallery of Me – Monday Night Poetry

October 23 2023

Monday Night Poetry. Beautiful people. 🖤🖤🖤

I shared a work-in-progress.

The Gallery of Me

As you enter the gallery of my heart
Tread lightly
Viewing the exhibits with
An open mind and heart

Leaving judgments and criticisms
At the door
You are welcome to retrieve
Them upon your exit
And you are welcome to leave
Them behind to be discarded
With the trash and nonsense that
The gallery routinely ejects.

Let’s cleanse the senses before entering
Close your eyes
Take a deep breath
Inhale the scent of this lemon
Touch your legs and your arms
Run your tongue along your teeth
Listen to the sounds in the room

Now step into the gallery.

Observing the first exhibit

You see what looks and smells
Like an apple pie
You pick it up
Sensing the sweet heaviness
Of apples, sugar, and flour
You look underneath the apple pie
And see and feel the discomfort
Of not being listened to
Ignored, mistreated, misunderstood,
You sense the longing of wanting
To fit in, to be liked.

You are looking at my childhood
A time of unbounded joy
Pure innocence

Intermingled with deep sorrow and trauma
You see a young girl who learned
How to dissociate
How to figure things out for herself
How to navigate her young life
Minus the emotional support of the adults around her
You see boundaries violated
A young girl who felt like she had no one
No one who understood and knew her true self

Moving on to the next exhibit

You see a field of honeysuckle vines and wildflowers
The scent is sweet and wild
Beyond the field you see
A dark tree-filled woods
mysterious with an air of loneliness

You are observing my teenage and young adult years

A time of wildness
Violation of this body
Living life from a mixture of my
Neurospicy mind co-mingled with trauma
Of my childhood and teenage years
Yet, not knowing this was how
I was living and responding to life.

Moving on to the last exhibit

You see a wildly colorful caterpillar
As it moves through all stages of
Transforming into a magnificent butterfly

You are observing
My adult life

A time of love,
Or what she thought was love,

Finally learning who I am
Working through the trauma
Releasing it’s silent, yet destructive grip
On my mind and heart

Setting boundaries
Speaking the fuck up when moved
Embracing my
And my romantic attraction preferences

Enjoying these last
Moments with my youngest
As they prepare to create
The next exhibit of their own life.

May you tread lightly
As you exit the gallery of my heart
And may you continue to fine tune
And create the exhibits of your own heart.

2023 Camilla Downs

Photos by and facilitated by @sidewayseightprojects and @mondaynightpoetry

*** I often write about my childhood, and many times it sounds unlovely. There were absolutely fun and carefree times, too. I have written about those. I write what is currently in my heart and mind. And absolutely none of what I write should be received in a disparaging way towards my parents. I love them very much and know they were doing the best they could. ❤️❤️❤️

Poetry: Water Dance and The Space Within and Shining Star Bag

September 24 2023

Monday Night Poetry! I read some oldies, plus a work-in-progress. I’m not ready to share the WIP yet so here’s the oldies.

Water Dance

As the suns reflection
Becomes a dancer
Of the water,
She takes by the hand
the one who walks.

She whispers sweet reminders,
To the walkers heart.

She dances elegantly.
She dances of love and grace.
She dances unknown
To many who see her
Only with the eyes.

For those that catch
Glimpses of her water dance
Life loses the illusions
of trickery.

She dances to
Guide them in
Remembering what
Their hearts continue
To know.

She reminds them
They are all different.
Yet, they are all the same.
We are they.
They are we.

The hand she
Took the walker by
Melts into the Sun.
The Sun swallows her
And she swallows the Sun.
They become One.

The one who walks
continues her
Walk of life
Having been reminded
Of what the brain had clouded.
What the heart always knows.
And lo, free and lighter, she continues to Walk.
-©️2018, Camilla Downs

The Space Within

There is a space within
A space occupied, it was.

Occupied with judgment
Occupied with harshness
Occupied with unkind thoughts
towards others.

There is a space within
where the darkness
of judgment used to live.

Judgment lives
here no more.
It has been.

There is a space within.

A soft space of love
of compassion
of empathy
of understanding.

For a journey
of a thousand miles has
been lived with
the understanding
that each one of us
has traveled a similar journey.

To be sure,
not the same journey.
No, not the same.
That matters not.

Each has traveled a journey
of a thousand miles.

And each viewed not
according to their journey,
yet viewed with eyes
that flow from the heart.

A heart that knows the two
are connected,
viewed with eyes flowing
from the heart that only
knows unconditional love.

Eyes wide open to
the Truth of each one’s journey.

The Truth that judgment of another is
simply a reflection of judgment
held within one towards oneself.

There is a space within,
a space that was once filled with
the darkness of judgment.

A space that is now
available for compassion
and love for one self and others.

Space to breath easier
Space to live easier
space to live peacefully
Space to allow all to BE
and travel the paths chosen.

There’s a space within.
A Beautiful Space.

May we all release
and expose this space within
for the Beauty it reveals.
-2018 Camilla Downs

This poem flowed forth from the below words I had written at a different time regarding judgments and compassion. For some reason I saved them. Now, I know why.

” ……. The space within me that held the weight of so many judgments …

Judgments against people who thought and felt differently, judgments against single moms, judgments against parents whose kids act out and the kids too.

Every single time one of those judgments was released, a cushion of compassion took its place. There are still some wee judgments hiding in there.

Some that stay hidden and some that peek out to see if its safe. Within me is not a safe zone for judgments … You are released and a warm, soft, loving cushion of compassion takes your place.”

Shining Star Bag

You can take
All the hearts
Nature puts forth

And put them 
All in a bag
Made of stars
Wrapped in a
Bow of beautiful
Green grass.

But there’ll be
Days when no
Matter the beauty
No matter the love
No matter the
Depth of knowing
How the Light
Shines within.

There’ll be days
When a heaviness
Envelops and that
Shining star bag
Full of love means.

Absolutely nothing.

There’ll be days
When the sweetness
And beauty of
Every breath
Is not felt or seen.

Yet, these days
Shall pass.
These days
Shall pass.

Pass, they shall.
And waiting will
Be that shining star
Bag of hearts
And love.

For Nature is
Nature is ever there
With love and light.

The Seed Pod
-2017 Lessons from Nature

The Number 18 – Monday Night Poetry

July 25 2023

Monday Night Poetry last night was so deeply moving. I am captivated and inspired by these beautiful people. I hugged, I laughed, I smiled, and I cried. That’s some amazing poetry (and people) that does that to you.

Since July is Pride Disability Month, I read the 2019 poem I wrote to Lillian when she turned 18 years old. Then I read some of Lillian’s poetry and I read a poem written by our 18p- friend, Hannah Belsterling from Oregon, titled Different Type of Heroes.

The Number 18

Today is your 18th Birthday.
Lillian Paige Darnell is 18 years old today.

I can still see you in my mind’s eye
as a wee 4 pound sweetheart
as I wondered and dreamed
about your journey to adulthood.

Wow! Did we take giant
twists and turns,
paths less traveled.

Little did I know as I snuggled
you close, sang to you (sorry about that),
and read, read, read to you;
that the number 18 would come
to be a powerful number for you,
for us, in more ways than we could imagine.

When you were 3 years old,
As we sat eating dinner,
As the phone rang,
As the pediatrician delivered
news – 18p-, she said,
missing the short arm of
chromosome 18, she said –
that rendered me speechless,
with tears sliding down my face
into a dinner I could no longer eat.

Little did I know at the time
that this was not the horrible
news I assumed it to be.

Oh, yes. Life changing, for sure.
Yet, not in the way my mind
led me to believe in those first few weeks.

There is no way on this Earth
I could have foreseen how
life changing this would be for me.

Life changing for me so as to
let you be who you came here to be.
For that to happen unconditionally
and organically, I had much learning to do.

Not just learning about genetics,
chromosomes, DNA,
and the effects of deletions of genes.
That was the small stuff compared to
the enormity of the path that lie ahead.

As you step into adulthood on this day
It is my deepest hope that
I have made more decisions for
the highest good, than not.

It is my deepest hope that the times when I have
remembered to share and be unconditional love
stand out and far outweigh the times when
I have not been at my best.

May the wishes you wish come true.
May the dreams you dream become reality.
May the sunshine light your way ever more.
May the moon teach you its secrets.
May the birdsong always sing sweet melodies to your heart.

May you step into adulthood
with iridescent rose gold fairy
wings of the highest and brightest
as you take flight on the next
greatest adventure of your life.

I love you
I honor you
I respect you
I am grateful for all that you
have taught and continue to teach me.

You are You
And You Are Perfect!

Mom – ©Camilla Downs

Group photo & photos of poets by: @mondaynightpoetrynv