art · childhood · Family · poetry · psychology · relationships · writing

Still Digging

Father, as immoveable
as a mountain
taught us to orchestrate
submontane routes

Circumnavigating
his rocky moods
bestowed upon us
a fear of masculinity

Resilience instilled
the necessity of mining
gold from darkness:
still digging.

(Sketch mine)

Family · memoir · poetry · writing

Parental Poison

A milk jug,
handle turned in,
was all it took
for father to lather,
a barrage of curses
decrying our lack of worth,
foaming from his mouth –
spittle that remains lodged
in our psyche – drug
resistant venom.

(Tuesdays poems come from Twitter.  Follow me at @Vjknutson.  Image from personal collection.)

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.)

 

 

 

adversity · Family · LGBQT · poetry · relationships · writing

Debonair and Deprived

“Is that you father?”
acquaintances would ask –
voices deep and dreamy.

Particular about his dress,
meticulous in his grooming,
Dad’s eyes sparkled oceans

his dark, wavy curls
framing a strong face,
his body tall and muscled.

I’d tilt my head sideways,
incredulous at this response,
then realize they’d fallen

for his mask – carefully
debonair, he exuded charm,
a well-rehearsed routine.

It’s his birthday today –
would be, you see, but
Dad passed over long ago.

Tortured, he was, relieved
to be done with a life
so defined by deprivation

for masculinity was only
a shell – housed a restless
spirit, a woman never seen

forced into seclusion by
a society – a family – who
could not/ would not see.

He may be free, but the tragedy
lingers – awareness now so raw
of all that might have been.

“Yes, that it my father,”
I might have said, adding
“A beautiful soul trapped inside.”

(My father was born June 14, 1924, and struggled all his life with his “secret”.  He turned to the Navy commandos at the age of 15, hoping to “beat” his impulses, and then alcohol to numb the pain.  We bore the brunt of his suffering, and were never able to cross the bridge to understanding. I have no pictures of my father, and only this one image of myself as a teen.  We looked very much alike.)

Fandango’s word of the day is debonair.

Daily Addiction is deprive.

blogging · creativity · Family · poetry · writing

The Infamous Ice Storm

April, in Ontario, is as unpredictable
as my father’s temperament –
sometimes warm and encouraging,
sometimes icily treacherous

like that morning, in 1973, when
coaxed by the early appearance of buds
and the mildness of a morning breeze,
we donned confidence instead of coats.

By noon the winds has shifted direction –
rain rapidly turned to sleet then freezing,
and we children escaped school early,
sliding our way across yards, marvelling

at the force that had turned trees into
glass sculptures, imagined ourselves
arctic explorers returning home to
hot chocolate and mother’s worried brow.

Father had not been heard from in hours,
and the absence of traffic attested to
the impossibility of the roads, and we
felt the weight of helplessness descend

fearful for our father’s life,
fearful for his state of mind –
his storms no less frightening
than the one that raged outdoors.

A scratching on the front door
set us all on high alert, and in
stumbled father, a ringer for
the abominable snowman

his hair and brows dripping
icicles, his pallor wan despite
the blueness of lips, the reddish
chafing of cheeks and nose –

one hand clenched in an icy fist
the other clamped onto a box
hoisted upon his shoulder – and
before anyone could utter a word

the ludicrousness of the situation
hit me, and unfiltered, I cried:
“You could have died out there,
but you saved your case of beer?”

napo2018button1
Our challenge to day is to write about a family anecdote.

abuse · dreams · poetry · recovery · spirituality

Seeking Home

My father’s kingdom his castle;
I inherited his strife, witnessed
years of control and submission
felt used, undervalued, robbed;

Was overinvolved responsibly,
misunderstood the nature of his
anguish, drew attention to myself
interpreting his pain as personal.

Our Father’s mansion (no place
for inanimate objects) nurtures
wisdom, recalls neglect, reflects
on life choices, lack of wholeness.

I am called Home, lifted from
introspection regurgitating
old stories, see the youthful
exaggeration, adult immaturity

have a lot to learn – like a child
throwing a tantrum – emotional,
disappointed, destructive – hurt,
lacking constructive perspective;

need to dwell in a house without
walls, free from guilt of neglected
obligations, wounding relieved
by the light of a greater purpose.

(Image: www.themainewire.com)