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By Paul A. White

An ominous cloud has passed

from the sky deep inside of me.

Was it a dream? Lightning

struck and scratched

a few words on the page

with a bony fingertip.

Now the illumination

is gone and doubt returns

like a velvet curtain of stars

thrown over my cowed head.

My soul rang like a cathedral bell

all of me vibrating and singing

so hard my glasses fell off in a field.

Everything is blurry with rain

and wet rags at the roadside.

Is there a person in there?

Scarecrow in a downpour

the weight of tears pulls clothes

from his spine -- nothing

but straw and bones

and an old book of hymns.

No, I won't let them read my poems.

They will think I'm crazy again.

Not another lightning strike! Please!

But tell me, how can I not speak

after God shot all the way through

and left me here empty and waiting?

PAUL A. WHITE lives in Cheektowaga and is a registered nurse working in pediatric home care. Diagnosed as schizophrenic at age 17, he has made writing a daily practice for more than 20 years. His new chapbook, "The Difficult Gift" published by Jeanne Duval Editions of Atlanta, contains poems about his affliction, its treatment and his recovery. One of the poems in the chapbook, "Archaeologist of Now," has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.