Family · life · Love · poetry · relationships

Missing

Have you seen her –
the child we lost,
the one who lost herself?

born to a sister
breasts not yet ripe
for motherhood’s call

a passenger
on a perilous ride,
sweetness eclipsed

by a cacophony
of raised voices
the wails of women

helplessly trapped
a smothering drama;
how easily she escaped

slipped from our clutches
found comfort in the streets
preferred coldness of strangers

to the raging fires at home;
lost her to the lure of parties,
an elixir for the empty places,

found her once amongst
the debris of discarded needles
and the haze of sexual reek

the golden halo of youth
now matted clumps of shame
her beauty sunken in shadows

we’d taught her well, it seems –
the art of submission, how to
betray the self, embrace defeat

tried to pick her up, create
a milieu of normalcy, establish
homelike roots, but shams

do not last and she ran again
the echo of her absence a hole
ringing in our hearts, we are

guilt-ridden, apologetic, fear
the power of our inadequacy;
try to forget, justify, cringe

for the child we lost,
the one that got away,
the one that lost herself.

(Submitting this for Ragtag Community’s daily prompt: needle.  Computer is going into the shop so I may be MIA for bit.  Missing was first penned in October of 2017.

adversity · culture · Family · poetry

Gains and Losses

The mistress, meticulously groomed
glows a sun-kissed bronze shimmery
invitation, promising seductive
sensations of pleasure and release.

The husband, tense, overworked,
emotionally overwrought
heeds the call like a sailor
following the lure of sirens.

The flirtation begins in innocence,
he sips from her splendour at a party,
tastes her bittersweetness and
feels himself losing all control.

She is a master, a pupeteer
mesmerizing him with her smooth,
easy ways – lulling him into compliance
and alone; for private indulgence.

The wife, tired, lies awake
the empty space beside her
echoing the hollow place within-
she no longer holds his desire.

Spent and reeking from his illicit encounter,
the husband stumbles into bed,
reassuringly reaching for his wife in the dark.
Unresponsive, she feigns sleep.

They’ll not speak of it tomorrow-
awake and re-engage in the routine they call life.
Not tonight, he’ll tell himself,
Not tonight, she’ll hope.

The mistress sits smugly in waiting,
a never ending supply of liquid gold,
bottled with a promise – subliminally
conditioned to bring personal gain.

(Gains and Losses first appeared here in December of 2014.  As a child of alcoholism, the Christmas season is always a reminder of the pain.   Some gains are just not worth the cost.  If you or someone you love has a problem with addiction, please make it a resolution to seek help.  There is so much more to life.)

Humour · life · poetry · relationships

No Elephants!

Never marry a man
who keeps an elephant
as a pet – trust me, I know.

No matter how slick
his explanations, please note:
elephants are not justification

for lapsed commitments, nor
hollow promises – relationships
can’t bear the costly weight of upkeep

no amount of toiling, cooking, or
maternal influence can detract
from the needs of animal outweighing

all other priorities – and don’t expect
sympathy from an elephant keeper’s
mother, she is in on the dupe, prayed

to offload this burden – compassion
fades swiftly in the face of giant-sized
demands, and elephants require feeding

If there’s an elephant in the equation,
I’d say cut the ties and the discourse –
no doubt another fool is waiting in the wings.

(Image: www.theapicalview.com)

dreams · Love · poetry · relationships

Midsummer Night’s Trap

I am no Titania,
whose mind poisoned
by Puck’s subterfuge,
finds your asinine
nature alluring.

You once slaughtered
all rational instincts,
beheaded my sensibility,
paraded my gored heart
like a trophy oozing blood

Thought to seduce me
anew, so confidant in
your primal charms,
my carnal libido, but no
flowery fog deludes me

you are not a guileless
Bottom, but an incubus
maliciously motivated,
a destroyer of souls,
conquest a side sport…

So willingly we entered
that midnight garden
of lust – me, innocent
as Helena, you a serpent
in the plot, more twisted

than Puck’s foiled plan;
I fear I have not removed
myself far enough from
that enchanted dystopia,
am grasping to reach

something stable, sane…
a solid security that defies
magical notions, grounds
me in respectability, a return
to a banality that precludes you.

(Image:  classicmoviestills.com)

 

 

 

abuse · dreams · Family · poetry · recovery

Regression

Fear drives me backwards, spinning
childhood tales, plunging into frigid
waters of isolation, desolation; falling

into the unknown; a mission to heal
the ruptures, out of season, past and
present colliding, frozen in time –

I am in need of extraction, need to
believe in flight of eagles – innocence’s
idol – need to initiate possibility; find

a match to melt icy deception – so
much betrayal – my sun is going down;
I stand at the water’s edge, ready to

launch; innocence and ignorance
co-conspirators of my youth; am
fighting an immature battle, out of

sync, hesitant, prefer avoidance to
combativeness, played one too many
addict’s game, felt the brunt of relapse

am powerless, emotionally responsible,
bear the burden of care, unable to release
control, swallowed by childhood’s chasm.

(Image from: www.egilpaulsen.com)

dreams · Family · life · poetry · relationships

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 –

I’d be a slot machine for him,
if only love equated 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.

Family · recovery

Ocean’s Legacy

My father’s eyes were the ocean,
hypnotizing, alluring, and I desired
to know their depth, their mysteries,
certain that true love dwelt there.

Volcanic was his temperament,
a constant fiery, churning nature,
that both awed and frightened –
danger always lurking: precarious.

He was the mountain, and we; his
offspring cowering in his shadows,
smothered by his darkness, only
dreaming of light: tortured souls.

Impotent in the face of his angst,
sought reparation elsewhere, looked
for his soul in the heart of others,
longed for healing from his disease.

Found eyes like his, mannerisms
that mimicked, aspired to love,
encountered unspoken truths:
learned of addiction’s demons.

Ran from one man to another,
constantly confronting same
wall of denial, dance of anger,
insurmountable debilitation.

I am my mother’s daughter,
congenial to a fault, driven
to please, pleased to submit,
an alcoholic’s dream mate.

Like my mother, I long for
something indescribable –
certainly unattainable – believe
that I am fated, unlovable.

Fallen, as I have, as she had,
into the mesmerizing blue
of his ocean, craving to know
the love that surely dwells there.

recovery · Uncategorized

Losing My Sister’s Daughter

I was nineteen, and just newly married, when my sister
was diagnosed with cancer – and given one month to live.
She had a daughter, then eleven, that she’d dragged around
from man to man, sleeping on couches, never knowing where
tomorrow’s meal would come from or if they’d be on the run.

Take care of her, my sister asked, I know I can count on you.
I’ll take care of her, I promised, but then my sister survived,
fought the cancer, defied the ravaging effects of chemotherapy
and found more men to carry her through, became mistress,
housewife, and continued her legacy of heart-break drama.

I brought her daughter into my home, loved her, as best I could –
a long way from being a mother myself – ineffectually addressing
the needs of a child born into misfortune, destined for worse.
She rebelled, pulled away from the inadequacy of the adults
around her, and sought chemicals as her parent of choice.

Her father took her in, a man whose short-lived existence
in her life spanned only two years, and who had moved on,
married, secured a pension, and had a wife and more children.
She delighted in the discovery of sisters, idolized this sudden
father-figure and projected suppressed rage at the stepmom.

By fifteen, the streets became her home, and when intervention
threatened, she ran, took up residence in the big city,  where
she met a man with money, and a penchant for young woman
and cocaine, and when his seed took hold, he married her,
and she had hopes for a brighter tomorrow, made promises

neither would keep – she returned home in a blizzard,
bought a ticket with borrowed money, arrived with no shoes,
no coat, and a body full of bruises – he’d beaten her in a drug –
induced furor – she was six months pregnant.  We cried,
held her to us, and delighted in the birth of her baby girl.

My sister’s health slipped again, and I, now a mother myself,
reached out to the young woman, my niece, and her child,
but she kept me at arm’s length – You are not my mother,
she’d say, and reluctantly let me in to her run-down rented
shack littered with over-sized dogs and burnt out men.

While her mother lay dying, she found a man willing,  loving,
and she returned to school, and finished her high school
and went on to gain further job worthy skills, and we all
breathed a sigh of relief and celebrated the future and
forgot – perhaps too quickly – her ravaged past;  believed.

I’ll look after her, my final words to my sister’s final breath;
a vow I could not keep.  My niece stopped answering my calls,
and by the time her man saviour threw up his arms, declared
he was done, my own house was burning, and I had no
ladder that would save us all, and so we lost one another.

When Children’s Aid found me, I was trying to rebuild,
mothering six teenagers – three of my own, three his –
she’d told them I’d help; take in her child, now adolescent,
and give her a good home.  This great-niece arrived,
underweight, malnourished, with big doe eyes
reminiscent of her mother’s and her mother before her.

The fragility of my family structure crumbled under the weight
of yet another, frequently abandoned, now distraught child,
and while our foundation shattered, she was swept up
by the capable arms of another mother, and adopted,
and my sister’s daughter – the one I let get away –

she lives on the streets, exchanges flesh for heroine.
has been rescued twice, but always returns, her sanity
tarnished, paranoia replacing common sense, she
exists between highs, no longer reaches out – she’s
robbed us of her trust – forever we are broken.

If I could do it again, would I bind her to me,
take her in my arms and not let go, until she understood
the truth of her existence, the neglect at the arms of her
mother – never emotionally stable – and the failure
of her aunt, ignorant and judgmental, a pretender?

Could I have saved her from herself, from temptation,
educated her about poor choices when it’s all she’d
ever known – all I’ve ever known – women as victims.
Our life was a carnival ride; we the side-show freaks,
captivated by the lights, drawn in by the crowds

and the smell of cotton candy – how we longed
for the sweetness of caramel, the taste of sugar
on our tongues to erase the bitter that lingered
from all the lies, deceptions that entombed us,
smothered good intentions, buried us alive.

There is no going back, rationality tells me
and yet the past thrives within, and I, sometimes
functional, oft times paralyzed, stumble through
the guilt wrought memories, crying with impotence
for a life lost at my own hands – an oath broken.