Book: The Gulls Are Always Laughing - A Lifetime, So Far, In Poetry by Karlyle Tommscategories: Book, LGBTQ, Trauma Survivor, Prejudice, Love, Lovers, Spirituality, Overcoming, Recovery, Acceptance, Suicide, Gay, Poetry
Karlyle Tommsabout this book: Everyone's life has tragedy and heartache. No one escapes life without dealing with hurt and turmoil. My own experience is not as bad as many, but worse than others. This is a poetry book about my own journey, starting with losing my mother at the age of five and growing up in rural Ozarks poverty in the 1960's where I was bullied and ridiculed as I was struggling to deal with being Gay at a time when, and in a place where, one simply didn't even mention such things. I kept my mouth shut. I never admitted the true nature of my heart while I attempted to assume the role that was expected of boys in those days. Despite attempting to assume that role, I was still picked on for being different from the expected norm. It was a long, hard fought journey to accepting myself as I am and loving who I am. It took many years to reach the point of acceptance that I have of myself today.
In all this, my cousin, who I dearly loved and who I was closer to than anyone else in the family except my grandmother, was also struggling with being lesbian. She joined the Army straight out of high school at the age of eighteen where she was gang raped, perhaps for her own differences from the expected norm. She came out of the Army in 1980 admitting that she was a lesbian, bringing home her chosen partner to parents who tried to control her and form her into their mold of what they thought she should be, and that didn't include being lesbian or having a lesbian lover. To escape their control, she moved to California, thousands of miles away, but continued to struggle with the demons that had been placed in her mind during her own tormented childhood. In 1982, she put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger. That was the most devastating time of my life since my mother had died.
Unlike my cousin, I was lucky. My grandmother affirmed me, no matter what. I came to the understanding, after a high school psychology class, that there was a better way, and I became determined to find it. I entered therapy as soon as I set foot on college campus in 1973 and continued that therapy, with various providers, for about 20 years as I weeded my mental garden of self-loathing, fear and shame while I studied human behavior and spirituality. Some of the therapists were determined to make me straight. I was given ridiculous assignments to look at straight pornography and masturbate while I fantasized about the having sex with the woman in the film. Instead, I came to wish that I could be that woman. Meanwhile, I gave myself permission to experiment with my sexuality and was astounded to discover that there were men in the world who would actually sleep with me. It is one thing to have sex, and entirely another to have a relationship, and attempting to have a relationship at a time in history when society pushed gay people into the shadows and punished them for being there was not an easy task. There were various attempts at love and lovers and there is poetry about those experiences also included in the book.
While, I struggled with sexuality, I also struggled with spirituality, and I discovered that there is a whole lot more to being a spiritual person than attending church and attempting to follow the rules. Ultimately, true spirituality is not about following the rules but about developing a personal relationship with higher power, an awareness that there is something beyond rules and regulations, and that genuine love is not really about conformity. When I moved to the Coastal Bend of Texas in 2015, I had come a long way in my personal and spiritual growth, but it was a very difficult move and I consoled myself with my walks on the beach, with collecting sea glass and with watching the gulls. In the turmoil, I sought to find my connection to the divine again. I became aware that the gulls sounded like they were laughing as they sailed over the beaches and the waves. For years, I had loved the quote by Oscar Wilde, "Life is too important to be taken seriously." The gulls brought that back to me with their laughter and I realized that no matter what happened, no matter what turmoil human beings go through and no matter how seriously we take things, the gulls are always laughing. This inspired me to collect the poetry that I had written over the years and compile it into this book. Some of it is true poetry. Some of it is more prose than poem, and some of it is actually song lyrics from back in the day when I struggled to become a song writer in Nashville. Here it is, my poetry book, my heart and soul in words and lyrics. Here it is, a window deep into my heart where you can look if you choose to.
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Other books by Karlyle Tomms
• Book Review: Anatomy of a Poet by CJ Heck|
• Book Review: Ring of Fire - Selected Poems 1972–2008 by Alessandra Gelmi|
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