A sketch of Rob Goldstein by Scott Bader

The Sleeping Poet

In 1981, I was 28 and someone named, ‘Bob’.

I lived in Honolulu, worked as a travel agent and did impulsive things
like fly to Manhattan for the weekend to visit my Grandmother.

I had a partner, we met eight years earlier in Connecticut; he worked
for American Airlines.

I had bouts of what I called ‘depression’ but life was mostly fun, I was
young and belonged to Honolulu’s community of politically active gay

1981 ended with the late October death of my Grandmother and the
early December homicide of my Mother.

I won’t go into the details of my Mother’s death but I was horrified.

I flew to South Carolina for her funeral, which was when I learned my
Mother was homeless.

Crazy with guilt and shame; I returned to Honolulu.

No one knew how to comfort me, no psychiatrist knew how to treat me,
and I didn’t know how to cope.

I told my partner I no longer loved him and asked him to move out.

I was too stunned to  grieve so I worked out at the gym all day for nights
of dancing and sex.

In January of 1982, I had episodes of waking up on the psychiatric unit of
Queens Hospital without knowing why I was there; by February of 82, I was
unable to work.

I had taken out private Disability Insurance so I still had an income.

Enter Scott Bader.

Scott was a successful young artist who needed a roommate; he had a posh
two-bedroom apartment in the gay ghetto of Waikiki.

I fell in love with the track lighting and moved in immediately.

Scott’s discipline as an artist inspired me to return to writing.

Through Scott, I met other artists and writers in Honolulu’s gay community.

I was a mess, but I was a more focused mess and some of my poetry was
published in the local bar rags.

In November of 1982, Scott got a professional invitation to move to San Francisco.

Scott knew I wanted to go back to the mainland so he invited me to go join him.

By December of 1982, I lived in San Francisco and worked as a Nautilus Instructor at a Gym in the Castro District.

I was becoming someone named, ‘Rob’.

Scott and I drifted apart as we pursued our separate goals.

A box of my journals started as a boy wound up in Los Angeles
during the move and I never got them back.

I assumed they became trash.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Scott Bader who asked if I wanted
sketches he said were mine.

I was shocked; Scott was alive and had sketches from my lost journals.

An elderly man I used to visit when I was 17 gave me eleven sketches from
the late 1940’s, I don’t remember why.

A sketch in the manner of Cocteu of a young man with thick hair
Lad with Blades of Hair, 1947

Scott sent scans of the sketches as well as the scan of a poem I wrote on Thanksgiving Day, 1978.

That Thanksgiving I worked a shift at the now-defunct Yale Psychiatric
in New Haven, Ct.

I went home that day and wrote this poem, which I typed up in 1982 and
gave to Scott.

A scan of a 1978 poem written by Rob Goldstein
Thanksgiving, 1978

The last thing Scott sent was a a copy of a sketch he did while I was ‘sacked out’ on the couch of our apartment in Waikiki.

Scott called it, ‘Sleeping Poet’

A sketch of Rob Goldstein by Scott Bader
Sleeping Poet by Scott Bader


Scott Bader is a graphic artist and illustrator who lives
in Vancouver, B.C. where he works in television and

His motto is, “Disregard Alien Orders”


(c) Rob Goldstein 2018

“Sleeping Poet” (c) Scott Bader

81 thoughts on “The Sleeping Poet

  1. I applaud you Rob for being like a Phoenix through life. Thank you for sharing an intimate part of yourself. Sometimes just the tiniest act of kindness is enough to life us. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a journey, Robert. What I notice most of all is how fragile most of our lives are and so readily broken. But also how small acts of kindness, small moments, small discoveries help us piece ourselves back together into something different, but often more beautiful for those cracks. Moving post, my friend. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is an amazing story. You have been through so much , fallen so low and yet clawed your way back. You writing is spell binding, your poetry touched my soul. The portrait of you by Scott Bader is truly a work of art. I am so glad I skipped over here from Hugh’s blog. 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Getting the poem and the sketches back is something else alright! Reading more about your past filled me with even more love for you today as you have come through the other side xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! What a post, Rob. Thanks so much for sharing some of your past life with us. I was totally hooked reading it. I love how your past came looking for you and connected you back with those sketches. And I have to say that the sketch from 1947 is simply beautiful, as is Scott’s sketch of you. Will you get them framed?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Melinda! I think I’m making some of my best images, at least as far as VR images, and Teagan forces me to think in terms of the complete narrative, which is something I can bring to my own writing. I don’t recall saying when my third year with “Survivors’ is but I’m sure I can look it up.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t have it any longer after the computer disaster and you having to join again. I might be able to look in your archives and save you some time, I know your busy. If I can’t find you can get to it when you can. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That sounds right. See a celebration notice soon! I’m starting with you, to acknowledge each contributor for their contribution and tenor. I want followers to know everyone better and see the commitment to the team.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Rob, it was very courageous of you to tell your back story here, I know what courage that takes. And amazing after all this time your documents turn up, and those memories return..
    No one can really understand how our minds can get to the state they do.. And from being someone who has experienced mental health problems myself in the form of a complete nervous breakdown in the nineties, I know how hard the uphill climb can be..
    So well done you, in all of your achievements. And for being able to see from another perspective now.
    Thank you for sharing Scots sketches and a little about your life..
    Be well my friend and take care..
    Blessings upon your continued journey.. ❤ Sue

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Rob, you’re really making up for lost time (blogging), as they say. This is an amazing post. It takes huge courage to reveal so much of yourself, of your pain. That’s something I only seem to be able to do in “glimpses” (even though those peeks seem too stark to some people — I guess maybe that’s why).
    This is one of your best posts, and you have many terrific posts. Thanks for sharing Scott’s remarkable talent with us, and the intriguing 1940s sketch too.
    Your followers are a beautiful group. There is such an outpouring of support and respect here that it warms my heart.
    Hugs on the wing, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love my followers (readers) on WordPress. They are so supportive and accepting of each other. I’m honored to have the followers I have. It’s true that the more you write the better you get or maybe I’ve learned how to get to the point of maybe I haven’t, I guess time will tell unless it doesn’t. 🙂

      I’m glad you mentioned the writing in your comment, it’s clean, it has to be because the content is potentially overwhelming.

      One of the points I want to make is the murdered person isn’t the only victim. Everyone in that person’s family is changed forever, and sometimes tragically.

      We must end the violence that tyrannizes our children and takes their lives.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Damn good post. What an amazing comeback for those sketches after all this time. Meant to be. I love when you tell your tales. I just want to hug you. I can’t imagine you could ever be a Bob. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Robby. I was fortunate to meet good people over the course of my life and writing is almost
      instinctive; it’s how I survived my childhood. Scott introduced me to the idea that I might be an artist and that gave me a reason to live.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I can hear it in your words. I never have been able to leave my childhood behind…and I never grieved for my mama…but I think I will always grieve for the mama I wish I had. Maybe that’s part of your grief as well. All damaged children pay a huge price. It’s almost like it leaves us in debt…forever.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Debt? Sort of–Yes. I’d be wealthy if I’d had a better childhood. There are choices I didn’t
        make because I was blinded to them and people I wounded and lost because I didn’t know
        that what I was doing was wrong.

        But we can’t live our lives grieving our losses.

        That is why I blog.
        Art gives meaning to pain.

        Shared art can give meaning to the pain of others.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I’ve often said “there’s no telling what I might have been and done, had I been raised by a different mama.” I also wonder what I could have been and done, had I not married a narcissistic pig.
        I started my blog because I was grieving…and angry…and feeling like I had wasted my life but my “journey” has segued into writing stories. I like getting my revenge in words.
        Your art work is such a beautiful way to express your feelings and emotions.
        I may begin quilting again…and so much of your work literally screams to me “what an extraordinary quilt this would make.”

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Josh.

      What people don’t understand about murder is it deeply affects everyone in the victims family.

      If we take one school shooting and include everyone in a murdered child’s family as a victim we get a real sense of the toll our nation’s violence takes on our standard of living and sense of autonomy.

      There is no such thing as an isolated act of violence.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, I don’t even know where to start. That was an up and down post with amazing highs and lows. I’m so glad the tragedies in your past are behind you and you’re standing strong today. The sketches are awesome, especially “sleeping poet,” and the poem speaks to your mindset at the time. It’s interesting how we can gauge our feelings in life based upon what flows through in your writing.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Your stories are always so interesting and full of life’s ups and downs, you’re an inspiration to any-person fortunate enough to be reading your articles.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. How wonderful, Rob. I love the sketches, especially The Sleeping Poet, but especially love your story. How amazing to get them back and your poem. Does Scott still have your journals?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Mary, thanks for stopping by.

      I don’t know if Scott has the journals but some of the other sent were in the box of journals so I have hope. Thanks for your comment on the story. At some point, I’ll post the photos Scott sent.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment, Paula. I can’t say that I have many regrets, although part of the healing process is grieving the loss of what might have been. I think all of us have to do this if we want to experience the fullness of life.


  12. Your posts often leave me without words. They just leave me in awe of you as a person. I always have words! Thoughts! But your posts leave me with just emotions of I think…well hard to put into words but…your authenticity and truth inspire me to keep being me.
    Thank you for telling your story

    Liked by 3 people

      1. That sketch I could have just looked at all day. Just to see how someone else saw you in that moment is so neat. I love your story and your honesty. It’s just so genuine

        Liked by 1 person

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