In Dreams

Mysterious, this pull
these avian dreams

I would rather fly away
lacking courage’s backbone

Yet here we are, facing
another day – me the bird

And you, the indomitable tree
roots to my wayward vision

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

Distorted Lenses

My memory of you –
distorted by childish exuberance-
distant and disinterested

Translated vacant eyes
through the lens of my needs
child that I was.

Failed to notice
the aura of defeat,
the battered heart

the robotic responses
masking unbelievable sorrow
missed it all

Till death knocked
and I saw you anew –
adult lenses now fully secured.

Wonder at the fortitude
that kept you upright
the love that served us both.

No fault here –
on either side –
just a bittersweet understanding.

(Distorted Lenses first appeared here August, 2019. Image my own)

Gambler

The gambler puts in fifty-cents
expects hundreds in return;

a simple flick of the wrist
and abundance will be his.

I feel like a slot machine:
paying dues for minimal input.

Tells himself there is more
to be had, if luck runs his way;

walks away from the richness
of family, joy of friendships –

Id’ be a slot machine for him
if love equated with money

Dreams of possibilities beyond
his daily reach, a fast track plan:

fortune is calling, palm itching
just one more roll of the die –

The die has been cast here;
no longer willing to gamble.

One more momentous win,
a promise to share the wealth;

what more could any woman want
from a man – half an empty dream?

Took a chance, myself once,
thought he was my windfall

guess, in the end, all gamblers lose.

(Originally penned Gambler in July, 2016. Image my own)

Washed Ashore

Was willing to settle
even before casting off

anchorless, with no compass
to guide me, nor oar to steer

left fate to the currents
a vessel adrift; naïve

trusted those with power
to rescue me, unaware

of the target vulnerability
made of me, that sharks

like to circle wayward
boats, certain of a catch

no wonder, when finally
I came ashore, wrecked

I had lost faith in love,
turned hope to cynicism

had failed to register
the dangers of sailing

into uncharted waters –
the necessity of navigational

resources, and a life jacket,
the knowledge to stay afloat

and safe, in a sea where
discernment saves hearts.

(Washed Ashore first appeared here July 2018. 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)

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)

Perfect

I’m being a good girl, Dad
Staying out of sight
Keeping my needs to a minimum
Promise I don’t cry, Dad.

I’m being a good wife, Dad
Cooking all his favourites
Letting him walk ahead
Never uttering a peep, Dad

I’m a perfect background wife, Dad
Just like you taught me; just like Mom
Only no one has to hit me to make me
behave, Dad; I learned it good from you.

(Image my own)