Strategy

One more train
and she’d be away
far enough
to lose him

Scavenged in her bag
searching for a ticket
and courage…
could use a dose of courage

Thought of her mother
how torn up she’d be;
of her sister, confined
to long-term care

Call for boarding
and a decision –
neck smarting from
last confrontation

He wielded his hands
like weapons. his words
like knives – her heart
a mass of bruises

What choice did she have?
Surely staying meant death,
but could she run forever?
Rage found new footing

Picked up her bag
hustled out of the station
Why should one man destroy her –
She needed a better strategy.

(Image my own)

Shoebox Dreams

A simple shoebox, repurposed
with plastered images of dreams –
paper affirmations of aspirations –
shelved and forgotten, its contents

snapshots, faded and torn, remnants
of another time, a different future –
captured when potential was prime
and possibility untainted by illness

This one was retirement – a supposed
celebration – but note how the colour
has drained the cracks obliterating
pride of accomplishment; and notice

how this one crumbles to the touch –
the fragments dissipating even as
my life has dissipated, the image
lost before memory resurfaces, so

much loss when circumstance dictates
direction, overpowers will, and plans
like snowflakes, vanish in the heat
of reality – pain and insult burning

But wait…this one looks promising –
the edges only slightly torn, the image
discernible – could it be that there is
hope yet – a future author I might be?

That’s the thing about times to come,
we fill them with imaginings, and pray,
our hope, like balloons set free in a sea
of unforeseen challenges, and seldom

does the end result reflect projected
plotting, and yet, there is power in
the dreaming, and so I’ll replace the old
with new photographs to store away.

(This is a rerun of a rerun. Still resonates. Image my own)

Sorry

Sorry –
so much inadequacy
bundled into one word
as if five letters
can convey
depths of regret,
shock, dismay

Seems I am the spark
to your lighter fluid –
unintentional, I swear

Still reeling
from the aftermath
of the explosion

Attempting to
deconstruct the
formula –
precautionary

I am sorry –
that you are enraged,
that you are so obviously disappointed
that you are consumed with resentment –
except, it is sadness, not regret that I feel.

I cannot own this,
was always honest,
forthright,
did not feed your expectations

Besides,
learned long ago –
we don’t have the power
to make anyone
feel anything
least of all,
sorry.

So I’m not sorry,
but maybe
if you could just tell me,
give me an inkling
of what you might need,
I can help us out of this hole.

(Sorry first appeared here 2018. Image my own)

Cryptic

Is the writing on the wall so cryptic?
Graphic images depict rage
flames of dissonance
young men bleeding at their own hands
compassion incapacitated.

A sad awakening
for a society fixated
on rights and privileges,
dominating culture
excluding the nurture
of humanity,
or preservation of life.

How can we continue
to closet our children’s pain –
their vitality oozing –
hopelessly abandoned
by morality’s shelter?

It is the wall,
not the spatters
of blood upon it,
which needs amending –
adolescent minds too tender
to wade through
the cryptic priorities –
messages divided.

(Cryptic first appeared here May 2018. Edited here. Image my own.)

They’re Just Family, After All

In anticipation of guests,
the hostess – always bent
on pleasing – carefully selects
the script, ascribes roles,
envisions an afternoon
of light repartee, peppered
with philosophical pondering –
satisfactory entertainment.

They’re just family, after all,
she tells herself, confident
in the outcome, fatally smug.

Crowd arriving, she fails
to read disinterest in eyes,
politely attempts to orchestrate
interactions, while they cast about,
calculating, shunning protocols
of etiquette, dispersing in
an unsettling way, then returning,
savagely encircling their prey.

They’re just family, after all,
she tells herself, panic rising,
confusion overriding confidence.

Unprepared to defend herself –
bears no arms but the giving type –
she ducks, grasps, attempts
retreat from the onslaught
of vindictive agendas, but the wall
of stored grievances, spotlighting
a history of injustices, corners
her, hopelessness in its wake.

They’re just family, after all,
she tells herself, knowing
full well the legacy of pain.

It’s friends, in the end,
who save her – a surefooted
cavalry, bearing the swords of
understanding, compassion
their war cry – reigning in the
once-invited, now betraying
guests – objective hearts
demanding an end to the fray.

They’re just family, after all,
she tells them, tells herself,
composure a mere thread.

Tables turned, the offenders
now plead for forgiveness,
beg for help, pretend the slights
were unintentional, harmless,
expect their hostess to step
over the bloodied and slain bits
of herself, and with benevolence,
restore her love for them again.

They’re just family, after all,
she says weakly, the torn script
of her expectations scattered.

(My art, entitled She Stands In the Middle of It All. This poem first appeared May, 2016)

Love Overcoming

Expectations are my enemy –
raised without standards,
boundaries full of holes,
I worship at the altar of lies

Fortunately, soul follows it own star –
rages against darkness encroaching,
shatters illusions, commands higher
aspirations – love overcoming fear

(Tuesdays, I borrow from Twitter @Vjknutson. Image my own)

(Self) Portrait of a Waitress

Jumbo Jet
they called her –
fast on her feet,
zooming in,
swooping up trays,
delivering with flight-
attendant flair.

When did she turn
to autopilot,
stop paying attention
to her destination?

Didn’t she know
she was set
on a crash course,
headed for disaster?

Tried to warn her,
wake her from stupor;
told me she’d reset
but danger remains.

She’s cruising now –
over-sized
turbo-lacking
under-fuelled,
no longer able
to soar – trapped
in a treacherous game.

Waits tables,
tries to keep
a clean house,
caters to others,
lends an ear,
has squeezed
every drop of self
into a low flying life

needs to land
a space of her own,
with room to breathe;
take life in shorter
intervals, refill
her jets.

(Portrait of a Waitress was originally written in 2016. Image a self portrait. Note: once upon a time, I was a waitress, whom the cooks referred to as “Jumbo Jet”. I waitressed my way through university, and a few rough spots in life. While I gave up the job, the metaphor of ‘waiting’ continued to be a theme in my dreams for many years after.)