The Watcher and Me

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The Watcher first showed up in poems I was writing in about 2013 or 2014. These three connected poems were written years apart during times I felt lost, alone and overwhelmed. The Watcher shows up from time to time, especially when my eyes and heart have contracted and hardened. Often, when I become consumed with fear, anger and resentments that try as I might, I cannot let go. I cannot make peace with a world seemingly gone batshit-crazy-wrong. I used to look away and escape (drinking alcohol made that easy to do).

Alcoholics Anonymous seemed to demand that I accept things that I cannot change. At first it seemed like a ‘pass’ absolving me of personal responsibility for things I perceived too hard. I know this isn’t the spirit, nor intent, rather, just my interpretation to avoid or ignore life’s challenges. However, now that I practice responsibility, acceptance of an increasingly divided country that scares me, angers me, and makes feel shame at what often feels inhumane to many, becomes a labyrinthine minefield of emotions that threaten my emotional well-being. Some would call this emotional sobriety. I cannot turn away, yet I can’t see clearly.

Sober, I’ve learned to rely on cycles of awareness-clarity-intention-action-reflection-awareness (drawn from Buddhism’s 8-fold path that I incorporate in 12 steps), but when overwhelmed by strong emotions, I tend to short-circuit and bypass one or more of these, leaping right into action. When The Watcher shows up in verses that I’m writing, I’m reminded to pause long enough to see things as they are, frame an intention that is helpful to myself and others, to act mindfully with kindness and compassion (passion can be firm and fierce, I’ve learned), and then to reflect. The Watcher I’ve come to see is part of my own creation of a personal mythology. Some have ‘Slick’. I have The Watcher. Or quite possibly, he’s just an interesting imaginary friend!

The Watcher and Me


I’m not sure when he found me, or from whence he came, this Watcher of mine, an observer of me.
I see him just out of the corner of my left eye, just watching and smiling.
I oft forget that he is there and then I’m suddenly aware of his presence, watching.
I call him The Watcher, for that is after all, what he does.

To The Watcher, life is neither good nor bad, nor fair or not, to him, life just is.
He, this watcher of mine, of me, watches without hovering over me. 
Neither advice, nor suggestion, nor judgement he gives.
Pure, clear awareness he is, a being that watches, watches, watches.

A purple robe with a gold colored braided belt he wears, tied in a Gordian knot about his waist.
An ample waist it has become, but not too much, for he can still see his feet.
Bare calloused feet with rough, ragged nails on which he walks there to here.
Long white flowing locks of thinning hair cascade from a bald pate to slumped shoulders.

The Watcher disappears and then he returns and then reappears to watch again.
Where he goes, I do not know and I cannot say for sure, as you’ve surely guessed, I’ve tried.
Maybe, just maybe, he has been there all the time.
What I know, have come to believe, is that he is there when I stop, pause and remember to breathe.


Blackberry canes like
The necks of tired giraffes
Droop, heavy with green berries 
Beginning to turn a bit here and there
Splotches of white red and black-blue.

The Watcher and I walk the path –
Me, I’m lost in thought, somewhere else –
A somewhere not now, rather, yesterday, tomorrow, next week –
So he, The Watcher, watches for me and tells me what he sees.

He sees so much more than I
For he learned how to be long ago.
He teaches me or tries to and sometimes I learn,
But oh how so easily and oft I do forget.

I hope you have a Watcher that watches,
And it is your very best friend,
There all the time even when you forget,
Like a shadow, always joined at the feet, walking your path.


The Watcher watched from afar
Watching great mountains 
Became a vast plain reaching west to east
And in a mere blink the plain was covered by sea
Before the land beneath shook and great mountains rose again
And still The Watcher watched
Prophets, teachers, preachers, clerics and enlightened ones 
These too came and they went 
Called by different names but telling stories that sounded the same
Kings, queens, politicians and leaders of various sorts and sects
Started wars to end the next war repeated again and again
And still The Watcher watched
I wonder sometimes just how hard it must be to watch
To see, to know, to watch, over and over and over and over again

About the Author

Robert B. is a 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.


The image used here is from the 1984 film “1984,”directed by Michael Radford. 

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Michael R. Tingley

    Good stuff! (Is there a photo credit?)

    1. John S

      The image is from the film 1984, starring John Hurt. I will add a credit. Thank you.

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