Paul Pines is the author of My Brother’s Madness, a memoir of his brother, Claude, who suffered from schizophrenia.

Below is a poem from the book, and you can purchase his book here on Amazon:


“I want to write a poem
to you, Claude, who never
believed my words but endured me
as a brother
who couldn’t see you

in spite of which
we managed to agree
it is a pity anyone should suffer
for being what
one is…

the tell me
why it’s true
that half-way through my life
I rush around afraid
the world will stop
if I do
then stop
and realize
you are
among my deepest sorrows?”


I rush around afraid


the world will stop


if I do


then stop


and realize


you are


among my deepest sorrows

Poetry Ptuesday – Poem for Claude by Paul Pines
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6 thoughts on “Poetry Ptuesday – Poem for Claude by Paul Pines

  • February 10, 2019 at 6:11 am

    I never knew your sister. I came across this page as I’m interested in FIRE.
    Grief is such a difficult and individual thing and losing someone you love is one of the hardest things to deal with in life. I really like one of Walt Whitman’s poems on it, called ‘When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d’:

    When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
    And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
    I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

    Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
    Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
    And thought of him I love.

    O powerful western fallen star!
    O shades of night—O moody, tearful night!
    O great star disappear’d—O the black murk that hides the star!
    O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me!
    O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.

    In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings,
    Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
    With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
    With every leaf a miracle—and from this bush in the dooryard,
    With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
    A sprig with its flower I break.

    In the swamp in secluded recesses,
    A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.

    Solitary the thrush,
    The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
    Sings by himself a song.

    Song of the bleeding throat,
    Death’s outlet song of life, (for well dear brother I know,
    If thou wast not granted to sing thou would’st surely die.)…”

    I like how he speaks about confusion about his own feelings concerning the death of someone he loved. He hesitates on his methods of honoring the memory. Sometimes he sees his offering of the lilac as a symbol of life and beauty; but at other moments views it as pointless, merely a broken twig. The birds continuous singing reminds him of his inner conflict regarding how to acknowledge his great loss. Should he continue to express himself through his writing? Or should he cease and suffer, like the bird when it stops singing?

    Maybe it idealizes grief too much. It’s always messier in real life.

    I also like a poem in translation, I think it went like:
    “Come gather, gather the flowers,
    The flowers of life,
    and may their petals be a sea of tranquility…”
    or something like that, I can’t remember exactly and have lost my copy of ’99 poems in translation’ by Harold Pinter where it came from. I just remember the poem was about death and life and remembering the joy, like when we are 5 year old children, and playing ring a ring a rosie, and we all fall in a giggling heap. It’s hard to know how to hold onto that as well as acknowledge the grief and pain that can happen throughout our lives later.

    I still cry when I read the Whitman poem and when I think of the flowers poem in translation.

    All the best to you and Mini for the future. From someone who has been broken by grief and survived it somehow. I marvel at how people cope with the tragedy of human life. There is so much suffering that has happened throughout human history. And yet people continue to survive, love and flourish. Every leaf is a heart-shaped miracle.

    • February 11, 2019 at 9:27 am

      Hello “Latecomer”,

      Thank you very much for your beautiful, thought-provoking response. Whitman is one of my favorite poets. I wanted to write my thesis on his and Melville’s Civil War poems. Life turned out differently, but I still turn over his pages and words often.

      I’m sorry you won’t be finding much if any FIRE stuff here going forward. I don’t know how far along you are in your journey, or whether you are a physician (or in training), so I don’t have a whole lot of suggestions. I do know that Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin is a popular, well-rounded introductory text that many recommend. Mr. Money Mustache is an extremely popular blog in the movement.

      My sister posthumously published a book with Dave Denniston (read: Dave did all of the work pulling it together, and has my gratitude forever). He is a CFA who decided to help physicians gain better control of their finances after he witnessed how hard they worked to help his daughter who was born 4 months premature. My sister considered Jim Dahle aka the White Coat Investor a mentor of hers; he was interested in this blog after she passed. Physician on FIRE spent a lot of his time helping my sister shape ideas of hers and sharpen her financial sense. He still drops in here occasionally which is nice. Future Proof MD is helmed by a young man who has some similarities with my sister (both radiology residents, both interested in FIRE) and I think they had a bit of back and forth. I’m sorry I can’t provide links here in the comment section, but I hope you will find what you came here looking for.

      Again, thank you for taking the time to share the beautiful poems, and to speak to your experience. I genuinely believe the way forward rests largely on all of us looking out for one another.

      See you around! – Elva

      • February 14, 2019 at 6:18 am

        Hi Elva, wow that is great you like Whitman too. I don’t across that often. What happened to your thesis ?
        Thanks for the FIRE suggestions. I’m a physician and along the FIRE journey. I have read the Vicki Robbin book, WCI book and PoF website.
        I hope you don’t mind me posting comments here. Please tell me if you do.
        “I’m sorry you won’t be finding much if any FIRE stuff here going forward.” – actually, I did come here for investing and you may well be a better investor than you realize…
        “I hope you will find what you came here looking for.” – yes definitely, I came here looking for something and I think we generally find what we’re looking for (except for the occasional very unpleasant surprise life can throw us). I’m really heartened to find a good spirited person continuing the site.
        Make sure you look after yourself, get enough support, and reach out for help if you ever need it.

        I have a question for you : do you believe in passive investing only or would you dabble in active ?

        • February 14, 2019 at 12:34 pm

          Hi again (again!),

          I didn’t continue with my schooling so the thesis never came to life.

          I’m glad! Those people can definitely steer you better in terms of personal finance than I could ever.

          I’m grateful for your comments 🙂 I am liking starting my day thinking about Whitman.

          That’s good you’re liking it here. It’s not much but I strive to be a nice corner of the internet haha

          And thank you, I will. I’m a super crusader for mental health awareness and care now. It’s a bit annoying actually 😉

          In the interest of full disclosure, I Googled “active v passive investment” before beginning my reply. I had an idea what they meant (duh!) but I wanted to make doubly sure. Also, I don’t do the bulk of earning and investing in our household. That said, I am theoretically for active, provided that it’s done with “throwaway money”. Not money I WANT to throw away, just that I’m prepared to, in the worst case. And I’d only invest in companies with a deliverable product that I truly believe in. If I buy into something not believing that it’ll see growth, but believing that I can sell it for a profit, that to me is gambling, not investing.

          My sister once said “spend time with things that have souls, that teach us and expand our horizons”. In my mind I always amended that to “invest in things that have the capacity for growth”. Stocks, relationships, careers… if it can’t grow past the present point, I’d avoid investing my money and time in it.

          Per your other comment, you’re right a dollar saved is effectively ten dollars earned down the road. I’m working on saving much more aggressively this year. I compare it to wanting to lose weight and keep it off. This can’t just be a “shopping diet”, it has to be a lifestyle change. I’m excited and holding myself accountable and looking forward to progress.

          Thanks for coming by and chatting with me 🙂

          • February 17, 2019 at 6:56 am

            I did an arts degree early in my life, which thinking back, I’m not so sure how helpful it was. But then I’m not sure if I learnt much in my medical degree either. Probably degrees are a lot more costly and less valuable than they used to be. What work are you doing now ?

            It sounds like you have the makings for a good investor. I guess when it comes to active investing, what we all look for is asymetric risk – low downside, high upside. But the outcome is uncertain.

            One very interesting thing about investing and literature I find is the narrative. If you appreciate literature you’ll appreciate narratives in investing. However, there is a tricky thing in investing that narratives build momentum until they reach a maximum point then fall over themselves. I think it is a combination of the fact that humans are hard wired to really latch onto narratives and the social herding effect. It’s very interesting to watch and think about. It’s also a very interesting thing in general – how many of our narratives are true ? We tend to filter what we see through the lens of our narratives and cognitive biases.

            The returns from passive investing are pretty impressive though. For the very minor extra return I’ve had from active, I think it has not been worth it. It is so easy to get sucked into a larger position and the market is a very tricky thing. If you try active investing, you will probably get hurt at some stage and you have to be prepared for that. It is also a very competitive thing, with yourself and with others. I think maybe if I started over, I would just passive index and spend my time doing other things. But I probably wouldn’t be able to because I actually enjoy it a lot. I just find markets fascinating. Either you’re obsesssed by it or not. And it’s uncertain in advance whether any time spent on the active portion will have any net return. Richard Ferri’s book “The Power of Passive Investing” puts forward a great case for passive investing and indexing.

            “The Ascent of Money: A financial History of the World” Niall Fergusson and William Bernsteins ” The Birth of Plenty” are great books on financial history. If you like literature, financial history is fascinating I think. I’m listening to an audiobook at the moment called “Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves”, which provides the authors narrative of optimism in financial history. I thought it was quite funny and mildly politically incorrect.

            • February 19, 2019 at 9:50 am

              Okay you’re recommendations are excellent! Reading is my favorite thing to do so I can’t thank you enough for steering me in the direction of books haha.

              I am a freelance writer. I also take care of my dad (he is diagnosed Bipolar like my sister was), 2 dogs and a cat. I’m like a stay at home animal-mom/one-woman senior center.

              I haven’t gotten myself into investing yet. It’s one of those things that I want to do once I’ve researched the hell out of it, like embroidery. I’m not sure if I’ll like it. But it’s something I would like to try. I can afford to start very very small even now, so maybe that’s the way to go about it and see if it’s for me.

              Doesn’t low downside, high upside just sound too good to be true?

              I’m going to check out the books you mentioned for sure. That’s a probably a good place to start for me 🙂

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