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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson

A Ghost Reminds Me How Much I Love Poetry

Ghost are always unexpected. And they arrive not for themselves but for us. As part of the UFO/Paranormal Summit at Ocean Shores this May, Medium Pete Orbea and I performed a Group Psychic Reading (aka Gallery Reading). During these events, a psychic receives messages for members of the audience. These readings are fun and very popular. Mediums use various methods to contact Those Who Have Crossed Over and then to match the ghostly visions with the intended recipient.

That evening, since it was a very large audience and I didn’t have time to receive info for everyone, I called upon my Spirit Guides to choose people by making them flash or shine and then open the way for the loved one to speak to them. Pete used, as he often does, automatic writing, taking in information both about the ghost itself and the message through his notebook and pen.

Pete went first and the message he got was about Paris and the letter ‘J.’ He asked the audience and no one claimed to know the reading was for them. I then proceeded to pass on messages from a daughter and a boss. The evening went well with attendees connecting with brothers and mothers and dear friends. At the end of the hour, Pete repeated that a ghost was coming through insistently with the words ‘Paris’ and ‘J’ or maybe a couple of ‘J’s.’ Again, no one seemed to feel an association with the City of Light or a name beginning with the 10th letter.

Suddenly I realized the message was for me! I was supposed to be the channel for delivering important thoughts and feelings, not receiving them! I told Pete I thought the Spirit might be speaking to me and he showed me where, in his notebook, the ghost had signed the name “Jess.”

I can’t even describe how stunned I was! And I knew what Jess wanted to tell me urgently now.

Jess Spielholz was one of the most important people ever to enter my life. He was/is mentor, friend, father figure and poetic companion. I met him when he was 98 and he passed away at 101. He was our neighbor down the way and we helped look out for him in his final days since he wished to remain in his own home, the lovely house with the beautiful view he had build for his beloved wife Hanna.

Everybody loved Jess and he had lots of visitors. He had been a physician by profession with a special calling for public health which he helped establish not only in Washington state but also in Israel and India. He was born Jewish but loved to think about and discuss all types of belief. He had a Buddhist shrine in his living room and one of his best friends was a Catholic priest.

One of his greatest loves, that we shared, was poetry. We read and wrote poems together. I had a whole set of ‘Jess Poems’ that I wrote about him. He could recite dozens – if not hundreds – of poems by heart. When he went to school in New York as a boy, students were made to memorize lengthy verses and he relished doing it. He could perform scenes from Shakespeare too. Reading and crafting poetry has been my artistic and spiritual practice since I was a child as well. Poetry lifted both of us into a wonderful sphere of limitless imagining – beauty, truth, goodness and unity. It made us one.

Jess had lived and traveled all over the world and he especially loved the beauty and artistic heart of Paris. His daughter had died young of a long-term illness, and he had sent her there the year before she passed. I had never traveled outside the U.S. except to Canada. And a joke between us was, “Joanne is a very good poet, but she is not a great poet because she has never been to Paris.” Jess passed away peacefully in the autumn of 2009 and the following year in October, I did indeed travel to this amazing city. My experience was everything Jess predicted it would be and more. I wrote many poems including some ‘Jess’ ones during those two weeks.

After his death, Jess became one of my Spirit Guides still inspiring and reassuring and instructing and befriending me from the Other Side. We have a set of symbols, besides words, that appear when he is near. Often, he shows up unexpectedly to get me back on track when I need him most.

For several months before the event at Ocean Shores, I had been struggling with poetry. I still read and wrote, but it had become a chore; I was pushing too hard and my efforts were bringing more resentment and frustration than joy. I was forcing my words to be and do things my higher self didn’t really want them to do, and I had lost the magic.

So there was Jess out at the beach, front and center, reminding me of the Paris in Poetry, bringing back all those wonderful afternoons and evenings we shared overlooking the sea at Eld Inlet and beyond this, the Cascade mountains. We would tell each other our dreams and what we called our ‘white iris’ moments. (The first bouquet Jess bought Hanna, the night they had their blind date, was white iris from a street vendor. They, then he, always kept a white iris garden). Out at the ocean, in a casino full of ghosts, Jess reignited my passion for images and sound and silence. And he signed this ‘Joanne poem’ with his name.

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