This Is How It Happens

Cherubic and reeking
grief’s pallor heavy
he comes to me

Of course, he does
I am schooled in compassion
seldom flinch at raw pain

I attend to the wounds
listen; reassure
but I am weary

My own sorrow unattended
loss and betrayal an inner bleed
know I have only so much to give

But he is not alone,
there is another
a mere child…

Cherubic and reeking
grief’s pallor heavy
he comes to me

Of course he does
and I will sign on to stay…
schooled in the art of compassion.

(The stories that come to us in the dreamtime, often celebrate anniversaries. Years ago, I was in a cycle of abusive relationships, culminating with the one represented in the poem. We met on New Year’s Eve. My son, then early teens, remarked to me that I always chose relationships that asked a lot of me but seldom gave in return. While I laughed it off in the moment, his words remained with me, especially as this man also betrayed me with another. It was the turning point I needed to do some real soul-searching.)

Image my own.

This Big Old House

Bought myself a big, old house
with a myriad of rooms; needed
it to accommodate all those I
wanted to please – it’s what I do.

Learned it living in a house full
of children – adults that were
children – do it to compensate
for never having been a child.

Raised my own family, bent
on making sure they had
their space, their autonomy,
they’re gone now, still can’t

quit – spend my days cleaning
up in the aftermath: so much
dirt to launder; need it to be
pristine so they’ll come back.

Bought this old house partially
furnished – remnants of lives
before me – the crumbs of past
denial hardened now, panicked

to imagine what petulance has
been drawn to their neglect,
becoming obsessed about the
infestation, erasing the past

confine myself to the main floor,
ignore the filth on walls – crayon
figures pleading for help – until
daylight reveals truth, and leaves

me no options but to toil harder –
cannot let these patterns repeat,
need to save the innocents –
this work is never done – refuse

to see that I am not responsible
for it all – project rage onto my
spouse (latest in a string of
targets) for the sin of taking

pleasure, when I cannot relax,
(everyone knows how to unwind
but me, Super Woman) feel the
compulsion to flee, but disability

allots me no recourse – thank
goodness for this big old house –
places to hide, be forgotten –
if it wasn’t for the old crone

who haunts my dreams, drags
me out of my spinning misery
forces me to extend myself,
meets me at the edge of calm

where tranquil waters soothe
my inner churning, and where
kindred spirits come to play,
and connections are real, and

I can roam freely, unattached,
until illness brings me back –
reminds me of my limitations –
that I have been eternally lost

in a house with many rooms
aimlessly wandering in hopes
or renewal, lost for so long
that I’ve forgotten how to let

go, and only in my dreams do
I find the freedom to walk away
and reclaim the life that awaits



Self Portrait in Colours

Found an old diary – days
when I prayed to the angels,
painted myself white, believed
in a God that cared about personal
forever after – painted myself pathetic.

Took me back to days of heartbreak,
when I pined after a man, noncommittal,
painted myself pink – an altruistic heart
yearning after unrequitable love, willing
to sacrifice, change – painted myself foolish.

Read between the lines about a woman
so desperately co-dependent she’d risk it all,
painted herself yellow, projected sunshine,
believed in fairy tale endings, threw away
dignity, sanity – painted herself delusional.

Wondered how she’d ever survived, knew
that life intervened in the end, saved her –
painted her broken; but somehow she found
strength, moved on, made better choices,
learned to love herself, painted herself indigo.

The Narcissist’s Argument

My wife stayed up all night,
waited for my sisters arrival;
told her they would get here
when they get here, but still
she remained vigilant – would
rather lose sleep than let go.

Cooked them a late night
meal, even though I told her
one is watching her figure
and the other precise in her
tastes – no way she could
please them, so why bother.

She worries, my wife, about
being perfect, being accepted;
she’ll never have the polish
of my upbringing or light a
candle to women in my family
and quite frankly, embarrasses

herself trying – I’d rather she
be a mouse, wait until I tell
her to act, let my sisters take
charge, stop trying to pretend
she is good enough, just worry

about fetching my dinners,
finishing the ironing, and
getting on with the children –
I am a busy man.  Makes her
angry though, if I say so; snips
at me as if it’s all my fault –

I didn’t ask her to do it – she
wants  me to talk to my siblings,
tell them she’s burdened as it is,
ask them to find a hotel – such
nonsense; such a bitter woman,

my wife, impossible to please,
always trying to control the
situation, complaining no one
else will help her – and who can
blame them; who wants to be
around that; that’s why I need

you, my dear,  so agreeable, lovely,
you lift my heart; give me hope –
thought about you all night, wished
you were there to fill up the empty
space beside me; know that we can
make each other forever happy.

(image from:


What Is It About Me?

Intelligent woman,
moderately attractive,
seeks insignificant man –
expectations minimal,
availability unimportant
(avoiding commitment)
accepts hollow vows.

Funny, entertaining –
life of the party –
suitable for social
outings, work place
functions, and other
excursions not requiring
intimate input from mate.

Am willing to set aside
reason, subjugate self
to abuse and rejection
in exchange for moments
(scraps really) of affection,
depraved passion welcome,
no prerequisites necessary.

Must be able to overlook
complete lack of direction,
social uncertainty, unresolved
issues of abandonment  –
scars from childhood abuse
a legacy of poor choices, and
other emotional baggage.

Apply with a subtle gesture –
warm smile, gentle touch –
insinuate state of unhappiness,
suggesting I possess remedy –
be sure to stipulate promises
nonexistent – insist all former
lovers incomparable to me.