Wasn’t Meant to Be

Love evolves –
a consideration
we overlooked
those day when
passion drove us
to fanciful displays

Tried to align myself
to the certainty
of your dreams
but my compass
was set elsewhere

Memory, though
has tattooed us
on my heart;
the ink still bleeds.

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

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.)

Angry Dreamer

Envisioning breakup –
past haunting possibility –
she navigates uncertainty
an angry dreamer

Tries to settle on truth
but with rage as filter
she processes and processes
reaching no solid ground

Love, she concludes,
is beyond availability
plans a solitary existence
until vulnerability caves again.

(for Eugi’s Weekly prompt: haunting, and Reena’s Xploration challenge: filter.
Image my own.)

The Cook

She’s in the kitchen
cleaning, prepping
sweetness, wishes

to nurture childlike
longings – sugar laden
gifts, honeyed chops

hooks her men with
culinary preciseness –
as legend prescribes

wants a strong, reliable
type to stir her ovaries
keep her dishing up love

Disappointment, like raw egg
drips off china plates –
shame of misadventures
she cannot scrub away

only serves tea now –
the smell of liquor
mingled with cigarettes
in lecherous calloused
hands turns her stomach

avoids the coffee maker
in the same way, despises
the way the bitter brew
makes her head spin –
wits need to be in order

has settled now as hostess
caters to near strangers
whose attention, riveted
by television screens, are

lulled by the rhythmic
sounds of her sanitizing
while stew simmers in pot,
dreams of romance shelved.

(Originally titled “Hatched”, this poem first appeared here in July, 2017. I am submitting an edited version for Reena’s Xploration challenge: Stranger in a strange land. Image my own)

Where Ignorance Leads

Quest for independence
born of familial dysfunction
led me down a path of dissent

Compromise, I believed
was toxic, swore against
the brutality of submission

Need no one,
depend on no one
have nothing to lose

Overlooked the joy
of interdependence –
an alien concept

Chose a lonely path,
a straggler destined
never to belong…

(Image my own)