Poems to Shine a Light on Dark Times

Of late I’ve found myself struggling again with heightened anxiety and darkening depression. I’ve been here before. Before getting sober and learning to cope with highs and lows in ways that helped rather than harm, I sought escape from all that was painful and overwhelming. For about a month now, I became almost desperate to escape what I saw outside that seemed to be so much hypocrisy and hate as elections neared. I also found myself at a place I’d never been before in my career – marginalized and minimized.

Though I’ve been anxious and depressed sober, I’ve pretty quickly seen it for what it was and used the ways of being that allow me to be present. It took me longer this time. Meditation, writing and sharing what I write, talking to others about how I’ve felt, listening to others that have felt the same, playing music, immersing myself in the refuge I find in nature and seeking light. I sometimes practice Step 2 by turning towards light and practice Step 3 by intentionally walking in light. Here are some verses from the past few years that have helped me be, helped me to find light when all I saw was darkness.


I try to sit but can only spin
Hate electrifies the very air
Falling into myself
Losing my grasp
As the center flies apart
Resisting the urge to run
To hide in a safer place
I let gravity slow my spin
Hold me here for a moment or two
And sit with uneasy truths


I sit in the shadows sometimes
Between fear and dread uneasy
Afraid to move to come out
Why I never seem to know


Children laughing
Dogs chasing
Wary cats
A moment noticed
Simple gifts
Rich treasures
To be cherished 
In a world sometimes
Gone batshit crazy
With angry fear
Hurtful words
Blame blaming blame
I breathe and I sigh
Sinking into now
Letting laughter
Calm my worry
Soothe my spirit


I find myself searching
Seeking meaning
Yearning for purpose
In a sometimes painful
Sometimes chaotic life
And then I remember
Remember I am here
And that’s enough


Lo the times I sank into despair
Desperate to escape a past
A past I could no longer bear
Afraid to face a future full of dread
Tired of livin’ and tired of dyin’
What changed and when
I can’t quite seem to say
Now just for today I’m grateful
Truly grateful for one more day

About the Author

Robert B is sober alcoholic in Madison, WI participating in AA and AlAnon at Fitchburg Serenity Club. He has been sober since April 21, 2007. He also began writing and sharing poetry on Facebook during his first year sober as part of his recovery from alcohol dependency, acute anxiety and chronic depression. He has found that creativity expressed primarily through writing poetry and playing various stringed instruments helped him heal and thrive.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John M.
John M.
2 years ago

Dear Robert,
When I came out of a treatment centre 11 years ago, I tended to define “disease” in a wide sense so whether I looked at my alcoholism itself, or depression, or despair, or even my complacency, or my mediocrity as disease, this Heinrich Heine verse helped motivate me to begin recreating my life (and appreciating all that is creative in this life). Just wanted to share it with you:

Disease was the most basic ground 
of my creative urge and distress; 
creating, I could convalesce, 
creating, I again grew sound.

Rita Stima
Rita Stima
2 years ago

Beautiful   Thank you!

Steve W
Steve W
2 years ago

Good stuff. I have been there.

2 years ago

Thank you Murray!

Murray J
Murray J
2 years ago

I think for many of us in recovery the past two years of political turmoil have tried us mightily. I’m a Canadian and we are not immune to the forces of division. Your poems are honest and meaningful. They do bring light into the darkness.


thank you!