Huddled In My Cloak Of Widowhood


I will always remember you,
on this day over all other days.
A country that had always hated you
took your life and left me, your kids to raise.

Even in war, segregation was maintained.
You were not even equal in a combat zone.
But you gave your life anyway.
And all that’s left of you is a flag and a tombstone.

I knew you when you laughed and loved
but not the you who learned to shoot to kill.
And our children will never understand my pain
or the heartache that is a war widow’s bitter pill.

So many decades have come and gone.
And still, young men are sent to die.
It would seem that no one is paying attention.
They just heed yet another battle cry.

For some, today is all about hotdogs.
And for others, a day off is just as good.
But for me, I will spend this day alone,
huddled in my cloak of widowhood.

Written by,
Shelby I. Courtland
©2016 Shelby I. Courtland

My Thoughts On Prince, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston And The Burden Of Fame!

prince michael and whitney



This is what I think about those who entertain us; the ones we laud, now and forever more for their outstanding achievements. I think that they just get burned out. I think that fame and fortune comes with a huge price tag and to pay that price, it means endless hours of grueling and exhausting work, work and work to continue to produce what they are adored for, to produce more for their fans who expect more and more and more from them.

With the recent passing of Prince and the not so distant passing of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, there seems to be a common denominator; aging and drugs, drugs to deal with the pain emanating from a body that has been put through a nightmarish and hellish torture. Can you just imagine what it would take to get your body ready for a concert tour? Can you imagine the hours of rehearsals, day after day after day. They have got to achieve perfection. There can be no ‘retakes’. There is no room for failure. Their fans are expecting them to give their all and to continue to give it, forever! They are expected to be above human failings. The problem is, they are not. They are put on a pedestal and they are worshipped and idolized and that has to do something to them. The pressure alone has to be beyond anything I can imagine. I would not have the stamina to withstand the pressures of being under a microscope, forever. I could not imagine the grueling workout routines and regimens they must have had to endure to be able to get through multiple back-to-back concerts and make it all look effortless and for them to look, tireless.

We are all extremely selfish when it comes to those who entertain us. We just hear and see the finished ‘product’. We don’t get to see all that goes into putting that finished ‘product’ together up until the moment they step out onto that stage and perform. We don’t see the sleepless nights when they are trying to pen lyrics to paper and then music to lyrics and then dance moves to the music. We think that it is all just glitz and glamour and fun and a beautiful voice and riches and fame and oh the wonder of it all. They must train their voice in order to extend it through hours of entertaining us and they also have no private life. Who they are friends with is known. Who they are dating or who they marry is known. Where they shop, what they buy and so forth and so on. They have no privacy whatsoever. And it seems as though it is expected of them to know that they have no right to privacy because they should know that they belong to us; their adoring and exacting fans. They cannot let us down for if they do, we will turn our backs on them, just as we did when Whitney Houston’s voice finally gave out due to her giving up. The pressure was just too great. Being in the spotlight all the time was more than she could take and add an aging body into the mix and there you have it, another ‘idol’ gone too soon, but was it too soon for her? We will never know.

And with Michael Jackson, what was different? We hear about his financial problems and we all know the scandals that rocked his life. We have heard about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father as a child. The man had no childhood. He was expected to perform, get it right the first time and never should the word, ‘imperfect’ be a part of his life; privately or publicly. That would confuse the hell out of me. I wouldn’t even begin to know who I was, especially when I never knew what it was like to be a child; to laugh and to play and to run around a playground. He couldn’t do those things because he had lyrics to write and songs to produce and moves to choreograph; an adoring public to perform in front of and the performance had better be perfect, so said his father in his early years and he knew later on in life that it was demanded of him. But with an aging body, scandals dogging his every footstep, nowhere to turn, what did you think would happen? Oh we think that they are surrounded by a loving family and plenty of bosom buddy friends but Michael Jackson was alone with just a doctor when he died. The Michael Jacksons the Princes and Whitney Houstons of this world were more alone than we can ever know. The kind of life they must live does not bode for a long life. It cannot. The body cannot take it for long and neither can the mind. All of the greats have this in common. Not many live a long life.

Prince died alone. And yet, he was idolized. I have read that his parties were ‘All The Rage’ and everyone wanted an invitation but when the final curtain call came, who was with him? Where were all of these people who had clamored to be around him, to hitch their wagon to his star? Who faced with him, the pain of an aging body, the ravages of countless, sleepless nights spent at the piano attempting to pound out yet another hit because the hits just needed to keep coming? He was Prince. He was not a mere person. He was an idol; a god. He walked, not among us, but above us which is where we put him. No mere mortal can endure that kind of adulation forever. It exacted a toll. And death comes all too prematurely; a common denominator, once again.

These people that we idolize cease to be human and become ‘wonders’. They become stars. And where are stars? Stars are in the sky beyond our reach and so are these people. We cannot touch them. We can only see and hear them from a distance and we can read about them and follow them as best we can on social media and to one country after another when they go on tour.

But have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “Could I handle the pressure?” Have you ever even stopped to question just what it must be like to be idolized; put on a pedestal, not seen as all too human? Our idols will never live ‘up’ to our expectations because we prop them up too high and the higher we prop them up, the greater the distance they have to fall. And when they fall, we are not there to catch them. And so, they die, alone.

Think about that the next time you find yourself worshipping, idolizing and putting on a pedestal a person who, without the gift of a beautiful singing voice or some other extraordinary talent, would be just another you; an ordinary human being and not a ‘god’; a star in the sky, out of reach of us mere mortals. Please remember, they too, were mere mortals who happened to have been blessed with a gift they chose to share with us and though we think we did right by them, we only did them a disservice by never truly realizing all that we expected of them and all that they gave to us; not until after they died. We failed them, they did not fail us. Mankind was not meant to be worshipped, but to love and to be loved.

When The Streets Are Home

streets are home

When the streets are home,
you have no bed, you have no pillow.
When the streets are home,
you cry along with the weeping willow.

When the streets are home,
dawn or dusk; there is no difference.
When the streets are home,
you pray for deliverance.

When the streets are home,
you’re not alive; you’re dead inside.
When the streets are home,
from prying eyes, you cannot hide.

When the streets are home,
your every fear must be faced.
When the streets are home,
who you were has been erased.

When the streets are home,
you fight to survive each and every day.
When the streets are home,
everywhere you go, you’re turned away.

When the streets are home,
you’re invisible, unloved and unknown.
When the streets are home,
you’re surrounded and yet, so alone.

Written by,
Shelby I. Courtland
©2014 Shelby I. Courtland

“The Peace Of Being Alone”

key to home

Wrap me in your warmth
And shield me from the cold.
A blanket would be nice.
It is worth its weight in gold.

A pair of shoes, I am in need,
but I won’t hold my breath.
‘twould be too much to ask
of those who have the wealth.

Need I hold out hope,
for a home to call my own.
A roof to hide the stars,
and the peace of being alone.

Written by,
Shelby I. Courtland
© 2013 Shelby I. Courtland

There is a difference in being lonely and being alone. The homeless are never alone, even out in the streets as there are always people passing by. They are lonely because they are shunned due to the loss of their identity. Our identity is also defined by our address and when we have none, we are never alone. If they are in shelters, there is never any peace and if they are on the streets, they are harassed. Again, no peace. This Christmas, think about how you would feel if, when you left your job, or went shopping, there was no ‘address’ for you to return to, no familiar personal belongings left untouched because they are behind lock and key and you are not toting them around with you; exposed for all to see, just as the homeless are, exposed and yet, invisible. Can you just imagine what it would feel like to a homeless person, who after 20 years of homelessness, turn a key in their very own lock, enter their ‘home’ and for the first time in years, experience the ‘peace of being alone’? Think about it!

Love Is Not A Game



My feelings were untouched until you came and broke the seal.

How can I forgive you when I had no time to heal?

You took from me my all and then led my heart astray.

I believed your many lies until the day you went away.


I have loved and I have lost so many times before.

I could never play another just to even up the score.

The pain is never less when each new love is gone.

As love is not a game and a heart is not a pawn.


Heart strands are torn apart as if entwined by fragile rope.

I look towards the heavens for just one glimpse of hope.

The nights, they are the longest with none to fill the void.

No light shines through the clouds, my trust has been destroyed.


Who knows if I will love again with a heart in mortal fear.

As I place the broken ruins upon its sacrificial bier.

Forgiveness was not mine to give; I tossed no love aside.

Who will comfort you at night; you with your everlasting pride?


Written by,

Shelby I. Courtland

© 2013 Shelby I. Courtland





Am I Not Human?

Someone, please tell me just what did I do wrong?
For a little change, I will sing to you a song.

I will entertain u

As I sit here wracked with guilt, this sign does say it all.
I served my country well and yes, I took a fall.
Foreclosure they did call it, when they said I had to leave.
Dazed and bewildered, I had no time to grieve.

homeless vet

I walk the streets alone. My life is now pure hell.
No one even cares that I’m huddled in my shell.

up against the wall

Look at how you live, enjoying happy hour.
Pockets bulged with credit cards. Yes, you have the power.
Sit back, enjoy your life and give no thought to me.
I must not be human since my plight you never see.

happy hour

I heard these words so long ago, what do they mean today?
“What goes up, must come down.” You, too have ‘feet of clay’.
Will you be the next to have your world crash and burn?
And wonder how your life, did take an awful turn.
I dedicate a song to you and hope you’ll never find,
A world that hates the sight of you and where people are unkind.


Written by,

Shelby I. Courtland

© 2013 Shelby I. Courtland