Compulsive Clotheshound

I would befriend hesitation,
take her shopping with me,
invest the time, but impulse
is my constant companion.

Hesitation, born of shared
trauma, labours over pain-
filled decisions; my need is
palpable, throbbing, must

suffocate it beneath layers
of numbing fabric, weight;
afraid to show myself, afraid
that she will find me, block

any progress, or worse, make
me pay for these layers of
stolen moments; encounter
crazy reflected in her eyes.

(Photo from getleashedmag.com)

If I Were a Kitchen

If I were a kitchen, I’d want
an old-fashioned woman
at my counters, rolling dough,
canning – pickles, chutney, jam –
homemade pasta sauce, and
every Sunday a roast. She’d
wear her sweat like a saint,
ignore her aching back, one
practiced hand feeding her
Carnation baby, while other
children flocked to Formica,
hot flesh sticking to vinyl,
as they picked at fresh made
sweet buns, the pot on the
stove perpetually simmering.

Or give me modern efficiency –
ninjas and presses, air fryers,
and induction cookers – let the
children belly up to the breakfast
bar, chomp on veggies and humus,
while Mom totes baby in a sling,
and preps her bone broth, strains
of Baby Einstein emitting from
a propped up iPad, while a cellphone
vibrates on granite and the Keurig
spits out one more Starbucks Pike .

Just don’t abandon me, piles
of unopened mail, or tossed
aside receipts company for
coffee rings on my counters.
Please don’t litter my surfaces
with rotting takeout containers,
or dishes caked with process
cheese residue, leave my
stainless steel sinks stained,
spoiled food reeking in the
refrigerator, traces of late night
mishaps curdling on the floor;
the absence of familial sounds
declaring my presence invalid.

Strike Out

I would stand on my head,
call in the big leagues,
imagine fun, opportunity,

but constantly meet with
the wall of your limitations.

My desire is innocent – impish
maybe – dependable; hope to
create memorable moments,

but boredom is oppressive,
and you are shutting me out.

I am alone here, hoop jumping,
giving of myself, willing to take
ownership in this rejection play

but relationship is not one-sided
and this game piece is opting out.

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Residential Horrors

This place is both school and residence,
where I have come to live and work –

‘Live’ is a stretch – these old walls hold
secrets, tension dissuading recreation.

The work is meant to be education, but
survival seems to be what we are learning,

the students and I, shivering in the isolation
of this cold setting – fields of rolling green

within our view torment us – the open air
as inaccessible as the homes we long for.

Inside, the heat is stifling and the constant
clatter of keys and rustle of gowns, starched

and unforgiving, remind us of the permanency
of our stay – perhaps, I am just too young,

too fresh to be a teacher here – have visited
this place before in the dream time, known

it’s horrors, am all too awake now, certain
that the hidden places exist, that evil lives

within these walls, is watching us, waiting –
have seen movement behind shutters, where

none was warranted, heard breathing at the
grates in the baseboard, am skin-crawling

paranoid, everywhere eyes, ears, but no voices.
All too afraid to speak – two children are missing.

The authorities have investigated; say the girl
ran off with some fellow, and that the boy went

home, but I know this not true – runners are brought
back and punished into submissions, and home is

not an option – something sinister is at work – my
heart aches.  She was such a bright child, optimistic,

despite oppression, a light in our days, I cannot imagine
where she would have run to other than her own demise,

uncharacteristic really.  And he, tall and strong – a silent
oak among us, gentle and peaceful – he endured much;

why is he suddenly gone?  I cannot stand by, and let this
happen, must investigate – will myself to pry the grate

loose, peer beyond into the murky space below – spy
concrete, a warehouse like cellar – a single light bulb

burning in a corner, interrogation style. I shudder, am
compelled to learn more, search for an entrance,

encounter locked doors, my paranoia peaking – there
is movement – a man emerging from the horrid depths

an authority figure;  I sigh with relief – I am not alone
in my suspicions – those in charge are on the case.

(photo from globalnews.ca)

Checked Out

Every woman needs a man,
her mother told her, to make
her complete.  To submit,

she realizes, too late, soul
traded for high-rise living,
big city dreams numbing

inner losses; she eats to
appease an inner sorrow,
a second-rate childhood,

afraid of being a burden,
loathe to create a stir,
conditioned complacency:

appeasing, pleasing, follows
plans, avoids decisions, never
really knows where she is going.

Can she fault the man, schooled
to provide – the alpha male taking
ownership/ charge?  His child

lives here too, feeds on impulses,
craves attention, overcompensates
for fears of lacking with bravado;

cannot understand why she never
asserts her self, alternately reads
acceptance and disapproval, frets –

an eternally unsettled gnawing gut.
They stumble over one another, seek
separation in small quarters, discuss

repairmen, schedules – nothing;
avoid deeper issues like the fact
that they are both suffocating, near

jumping off the ledge of their high
faluting existence, into the snarl
of traffic that immobilizes them.

The noise of city living has negated
their ability to listen, the distractions
altered them; the distance between

is too far to bridge in a single sigh,
and she, no longer submissive,
has joined him, and checked out.

Love, Like Shoes

If searching for love
was like shopping for shoes,
I’d fixate on the simplest
of finds, choosing practicality
over fashion flair.

My preference is for earthy,
unassuming, plain is fine
as long as the structure
gives me room to breath –
no grasping too tight.

If I shopped for love,
like I do for shoes,
I’d ignore those pushy
sales lines, opt instead
for a supportive sole,

settle for guaranteed comfort
over flashy heels, can’t bear
the instability of pedestals,
love flattery like most,
but need to feel grounded.

No doubt I’d question
my selection, offer it up
to my children for feedback
be mocked, dissuaded,
put it back and search anew,

discover futility in my seeking,
realize that I need new love
like I need new shoes –
only a foolish indulgence
for a woman who lives in bed.

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Casting Call

Anticipation that life will one day recommence –
as if a curtain will open and there I’ll be, sitting
in the audience, hungrily waiting for the play –
has drawn me from my solitude, encouraged.

Have a friendly enough disposition, once graced
the boards myself – a lifetime ago now – confident
in my ability to engage, find kindred conversation,
may even make a friend or two, unless I disappear

again, slip back into the silence, abandon others
without a trace, grow restless, search for meaning
among the sheepish drones –a preponderance of
perpetual inactivity begetting obesity, choosing

comfort over confrontation – the curtain is drawn
the drama unfolding and we idol sitters, we fickle
non-committers watch agape, dumbfounded by
the acts, defy our better instincts, remain inert,

prefer to go back to sleep, but the dogged truths
of inhumanity are playing out on life’s stage, and
we are called to brush off the lull of anxious
politeness and dare to rise to anger, find passion

claim a role and be cast into the action, no time
for auditions, the script is unfolding, the ending
assured, unless we are willing to awaken, prod
the masses, and re-envision a less tragic ending.

(Image from camstage.com)

Isolation’s Hold

Disability covets isolation, this
stripped-back, box-like state.

Rustic serenity, with breathing
room would be preferable, but

nostalgia creeps in and lack of
self-worth leaves the door open

to unwanted visitors, phantoms
of former torments, nondescript

invaders targeting the lonely,
misconstruing lack of health

for neediness, preying on weak-
hearted, presuming incapability.

I am unwell, not unwanted, effort
to protest ignored, I grow wary of

fellow travelers, am vandalized by
nightly attacks, attempt to reach

out, aim for strength, logic, clarity,
dial-up past abuse instead, cannot

fathom the purpose of unsolicited
persecution, grasping at isolation.

Establishing A Front

The intention of this establishment
is that offerings be fresh, the views
spectacular, accommodations warm.

But the patrons are somewhat showy,
downright gaudy actually, and a rat-like
predator is gnawing at door handles.

A friendly atmosphere, neighbourly
warmth, a shout out to the working
folk, the weary, a celebratory venue.

It’s the pretentious who are gathering,
thespians whose masks belie truths,
is this the effect we are aiming for?

Disguise is comfort, opportunity for
accomplishment is best-managed
by well established fronts, you see.

I Stand In The Doorway

Surrounded by the animated chatter of youth,
a mother piles food on plates, busies herself
with addressing individual needs, smiles warmly.

In another room, a woman lies lifeless, grieving
a life now passed, children gone, an absentee mate;
she is alone, feels the burden of her inadequacy.

I stand in the doorway between the two,
longing to join the reverie in one room,
unable to tear myself away from the other.

Would you like something to eat? I offer,
wanting to draw her her out of isolation,
but she turns away, claims to be dieting.

That’s not the right way to go about it
her eyes are cold, dying, my words a lecture,
how can she ignore the succulent aromas?

Outside, the men gather, raising glasses
and voices, masculine camaraderie, content
to let the women do their thing – oblivious.

We could join the party, I offer, but she is
tired of parties, tired of small talk, tired of
it all. I am inclined to agree, have known futility.

I want to go back into the kitchen, forget
about her, but it’s too late; I’ve touched
her sorrow, cannot let go, am powerless.

Think I’ll go outside, air out my mind,
sit amongst the clueless, talk about
everything and nothing, deny responsibility.

I stand in the doorway between two women
one who finds purpose in service to others,
and one whose life has lost all meaning.

I stand in the doorway between the two,
and notice that the mother is no longer me,
and that woman in the bed has no future,

and suddenly realize that I have choices,
and that motherhood or empty-nester
are self-imposed definitions, irrelevant.

Whether to participate or not in life is my call
and not a reflection of how I feel about my body
or whether or not I am giving or doing enough.

I turn from that doorway and make a decision
to just walk away – the kitchen will always be
a place of vitality and the bedroom a refuge

and me, I will be outside enjoying a drink
and conversing about who knows what
and living, obligation-free, in the moment.