aging · change · Family · poetry · relationships

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.

(Life, in retrospect, offers new revelations.  Poem inspired by Reena’s Exploration challenge – image as prompt.)

abuse · Family · Love · poetry · recovery · relationships · writing

Keep Learning

Tyrannical,  my father’s reign; the ensuing understanding of relationship dynamics twisted.  Violence and threats peppered with “I love you”, as if one was synonymous with the other.  I cowered with the rest, shame a heavy weight.

Oppression dictates
warped sense of love, intimate
nightmare – relearning.

(For Reena’s Exploration challenge #89.  Relationships have been the theme of my dreams lately – thus the reversal to childhood.)

creativity · nature · passion · photography · poetry · writing

Keep Imagining

Elaborate, the tree forts
imagination envisions

Indifferent, the rationale
that overpowers inspiration

I balk, abandon hope,
build a wall instead,
forgetting…

Creativity is not linear,
tolerates input, planning,
some alternatives preferred.

(Featured image from personal collection.   Doesn’t it just say:  “Climb me!”?  This image is a Live Oak, in Texas, and is available on various products at Society6.)

 

 

Family · LGBQT · life · memoir · poetry · relationships · women's issues · writing

A 60’s Childhood

Formative years were more destruct
than construct; contradictions riddled

the foundation of our familial structure:
one man tyrannized five females while

in the news, women marched for equality;
called the likes of him a male chauvinist.

Aunt drove a forklift truck, looked like a man,
chalked one up for women’s liberation, didn’t

talk about her sexuality; shadow of illegality
hovering around her – no one dared to ask.

At nine, I questioned the fairness of being
born a girl in a man’s world, felt impassioned

by feminist cries, yet feared my mom would
leave the nest, abandon baking, domestics;

leave us to fend for ourselves – the warm waft
of fresh-baked goods greeting us each day, gone.

Watched my sisters flaunt their womanly ways
for virile young men who flocked to see bikini

clad bodies, ripe and tanned by the sun – who
was reducing whom to sex objects? And when

my mother’s family came to visit, why were the
men’s hands so invasive, their tongues equally

misplaced, and was this what women in the streets
were crying out against? I wanted to be free, explore

my future prospects – open road ahead – but Mother
said boys will be boys, and men don’t like smart

women, and better to drop out of school at sixteen,
get a secretarial job, and be ready when your prince

arrives – so I rebelled, cut my hair, flaunted my
intelligence, spoke up about inconsistencies,

such as why is a God a He, and why Aunt didn’t
ever date – did feminist mean celibate? and why

when women were so oppressed and men had
all the power, did my father wish he could be one?

Formative years more destruct than construct;
a deviate imprint tainting normalcy’s prospects.

(A 60’s Childhood first appeared here in September, 2016.  My challenge this week is story.  Click on the link to join in.  Computer is currently in the shop – so I have set this post up in advance.  Sorry if it takes me a bit to get back to you. Image from personal collection.)

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.)

abuse · Family · poetry · writing

The Art Of Survival

Learned the art of survival
from father, a commando-
trained warrior, never able
to leave the battles behind

A sharp-shooter, whose
expert eye tracked our
every fault, with sniper
precision, shot us down.

Innocence has no place
when the enemy resides
within; when trigger lines
are camouflaged by wall-

to-wall carpets, and young
minds, craving exploration,
are imprisoned by acts of
terror; the only conclusion

survival’s impermanence –
hostility lurking in every
shadow, caution instilled
by the omnipotent legacy

of father. Tried to reach
him in the end, touch his
humanity; his shell-shocked
glaze paused for a moment,

he focused, broke through
the fury, seemed to remember
we were his daughters – was
that compassion lighting

his expression? Take cover,
he cried, get as far away as
you can, save yourselves, I
cannot sway my path, too

committed to this private war,
there is no mercy for me – but
you, you can be saved, save
your children.  I turn and run

with all the certainty that this
is life and death and embrace
the little ones, praying to lift
them out of the ashes, give

them new life, but it seems
they learned the art of survival
from the daughter of a father,
conditioned to the state of war.

(Submitted for dVerse pub Open Link Night.  This poem first appeared November 2016.  Video is a reading by yours truly at an Open Mic night.)

 

 

 

 

abuse · Family · mental-health · poetry · recovery · writing

Weighted Down

Weighted down.

I swallow rocks
to anchor this restlessness –
no exit available.

Would love to re-locate,
check self-assessment
into a sunnier place –
but the room is not ready.

I shove it back down –
am a silhouette
against stormy horizons.

My sister and I meet here,
at the edge of denial,
both seeking calmer waters –
she swims; I crave a shower

we are haunted in our sleep –
shadows clouding dreams –
projections of mermaid possibilities
and electric blue skies, dimmed

I gain ground, sifting
through basements, tossing
old ideals, reminiscing cynic;

she breaststrokes through debris
of family storms, ignoring the rubbish-
polluted pool, maintains motion

I am submerged, trying to work out
a relationship with father –
long since deceased, still present

have opened the contents
of our stored horror – no choice
but to carry on…

we are bit players in a staged drama –
no fame to add acclaim – just misguided
endings, fragile audiences, and
a sisters following
a different light

weighted down.

(Weighted Down first appeared here in September of 2016, and has stayed with me, begging to be revised.  Today, as I was playing around with images, I created this one (featured) and felt that it depicted the essence of the poem.   It was time.  I am also submitting this for V.J.’s weekly challenge:  shadows.)

 

 

 

blogging · creativity · Family · poetry · writing

Slippery

Slippery performed
and my eight-year-old
heart applauded

cheered when he escaped,
mourned the capture,
prayed for flight’s courage

but survival skills
eluded – was certain
I would starve, die

in a cave where
animals would gnaw
on my bones, and

family, unconcerned,
would sigh and say:
She’s just being Slippery.

(Slippery was the name of a sea lion who performed at a local’s children’s attraction in the 60’s.  He escaped into the Thames River and was captured again.  I can remember being torn between sorrow for him that he didn’t want to be there, and sorrow for us that he didn’t love us the way loved him.

It’s Open Link Night at dVerse, and I am also submitting this for 50 Word Thursday, Fandango’s: guess, and Ragtag Community’s prompt: slippery.)

blogging · creativity · Family · poetry · relationships

Youngest Child

The Boondocks,
my sisters told me,
was not a desirable
place to be –

‘cool’ being the theme
of our generation –
the line between
what was ‘in’
and what was not,
seemed fragile

to my imagination,
mind climbing
to copious possibilities

constantly slammed
by uptight, in-the-know
older siblings

Is it any wonder
that I never belonged,
the line of inclusion
always just out of reach?

Grew fond of
tucked away
spaces –
isolation

Adapted to
the “boonies” –
more refuge
than exile.

(Poem is brought to you by the inspirational prompting of Ragtag Community (copious), Daily Addictions (theme), Fandango’s (fragile), and Manic Mondays 3 Way prompt (Boondocks).