No Idea!

Girls are lucky:
just need to find the right man –
looked after for life.
Advice from a teenaged brother.

Right! I yell back,
fifty years later.
It was all a vacation –
raising the children on my own
looking for God in the midst of chaos
partners with wandering eyes
or absent…always absent…
still waiting for that “looking after”

And how did you make out, Dear Brother?
Oh, that’s right…married…
woman with a good job
willing to let you putter in the background

Guess we were both misled.

(No Idea! first appeared here November 2020. Image my own.)

Imitation

Pockets of light
illuminate the shore:
day submitting to dark

I trace the lines
of our passage
remembering

How winds and tides
shaped us; how carelessly
we wasted time…

Danced around
our solitudes –
imitating intimacy

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

Chasms

Old friend, I would visit you
but this compulsive state of
martyrdom delays our reunion;
then you slip my mind.

You wouldn’t recognize me –
this mask I wear, a product
of the toxicity that I play host to,
puts a life on my kind-heartedness

I want to be helpful
but carry a burden of failures –
ghosts from childhood home
that plug my memory

I have hurt so many,
neglected, now lost; family –
these useless ties are shadows
lurking, directing me –

I am sensitive, wanting
to exile the negativity, have been
taught to be considerate, but
cannot erase the inconsistencies

Spend too much time
browsing, delivering a fragment
of the torment that lies within;
am over-involved with self

Really want to be my best
in search of something greater
but today the frustration
is too raw, am at a loss

Old friend, I have reverted back
to dependence, manipulating,
am mentally unstable,
cannot find closure

in all the scattered pieces –
all I have to offer are bit,
disappointing, really – stored
memories that menace

Believe me when I say
I am working hard; want to start
fresh, have a goal in mind,
have not forgotten you

but am running out of
options, frustrated, can’t catch
a break, as the distance
between us widens.

(Chasms first appeared here October, 2106. Image my own)

Most Saturdays I include an audio recording, but this week my voice is not cooperating.

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)

Martyr’s Lament

I wake before dawn,
drive through blinding snowstorms,
if lost, alter course – without faltering –
even set out on foot when driving
becomes impossible, navigating
treacherous snow and ice, for you

So you can get where you need to be
So you can succeed
I risk it all for you

I keep you by my side
so that you will be safe
so that I can ensure your arrival

But, I grow weary, and my body
won’t go on, and all I ask for
is that we rest awhile,
so that I can catch my breath

And in that instance, you are gone –
no hesitation in your step, no looking back –
and when you finally stop to wait for me
it is too late…

A barrier has grown between us:
like an eight-foot, chain-link fence
separating me from protecting you

And you look at me with that glare
of exasperation that says:
“I should have done it on my own.”

Wait! Wait, I say.
This wall may seem insurmountable
but I can do it. I can do it; give me time.
I’ll just climb to the top.
It’ll be easy; you’ll see!

Don’t walk away! Give me one more chance
to prove my love. I do it all for you.

(Martyr’s Lament first appeared here in November, 2014.
This version is a rewrite. Image my own.)